Social Media Policy
Scope and Purpose
Using social media can be a fun and rewarding way to share institutional, professional, and personal information about daily life and opinions with family, friends, and colleagues around the world. However, information posted on a social media platform is often available to the public, easily shared with others beyond the intended audience, presents certain institutional risks, and, as it affects the reputation of Beloit College, carries with it certain responsibilities.
All use of campus electronic resources including the network, software, licensed services, computing and communication devices, etc. is governed by the Ethical Use of Computing and Information Resources: Privileges and Policies on Beloit College Computer Accounts, Administrative Policy Manual, Chapter 4, Section Q. The use of social media, whether for official college sites or for personal or professional sites that includes content about Beloit College, is subject to all of the provisions in that policy with the addition of the following guidelines for social media use on behalf of the college and for employees’ personal social media use that may impact the reputation of Beloit College.
What is “Social Media”?
In the rapidly expanding world of electronic communication, social media can mean many things and includes all means of communicating or posting information or content of any sort available to the public on the Internet, such as web blogs, logs, journals, and diaries; wikis; forums; web bulletin boards or chatrooms; personal websites; and social networking sites, such as: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat, among others. Social media platforms provide inexpensive, informal, and timely ways to participate in an exchange of ideas and information.
Official Beloit College Social Media
Beloit College has a social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms. These platforms play a key role in the objectives of the College and represent and promote the College, its offices, departments, programs, clubs, teams, and organizations. Ultimately, individuals are responsible for what they post online. Online posts should be appropriate and demonstrate respect for the dignity of Beloit College, its employees, students, alumni, vendors, and college-affiliated parties or competition.
Beloit College faculty, staff, and students who use, administer, or manage official College social media accounts, groups, pages, or other types of social media identities must follow these guidelines.
- Beloit College-sponsored social media are for College purposes only, and the College owns the accounts for College-sponsored social media, including all content, communications, and connections created, sent, received, or stored on such accounts.
- Only those who are designated and authorized by Beloit College can prepare content for or delete, edit, or otherwise modify content on College-sponsored social media.
- Notify the appropriate department, program or supervisor, and Communications and Integrated Marketing (C&IM) of an intent to create an official Beloit College account by completing this form.
- When naming an official account, place Beloit College at the beginning of the user or account name (e.g. Beloit College English Department).
- Notify C&IM about any official Beloit College account, identifying who is responsible for its content, and who has access to the account.
- At least one faculty or staff person must serve as an account administrator at all times. Only current staff, faculty, and currently enrolled students may serve as account administrators.
- Provide account access to C&IM. The C&IM office may access your group’s account when necessary: e.g., to remove a post or comment that is time-sensitive, inaccurate, or that it violates the social media policy. If C&IM accesses your account and makes such a change, C&IM will then notify the account administrator of the change.
- If creating a new official account or maintaining an established account, the person(s) who maintain administer the account must participate in an annual day-long meeting with other official account holders and a representative of C&IM focused on current marketing strategies and improving campus social media use to better promote the college
- Official accounts must conform to these social media policy and guidelines and maintain compliance with all applicable College policies at all time.
- If an account has been inactive for more than 90 days, it may be suspended or deleted. C&IM will generally first ask account holders to update or delete the account.
College Representation and Posting Guidelines
- All official Beloit College social media accounts must fully support the mission and goals of the College. Images, posts, and other content should work to help promote the college, retain students, and deliver messages about Beloit.
- All social media content must be accessible.
- Anyone representing Beloit College on social media serves as an ambassador and should promote the College in a professional manner, strive to make posts inclusive and accessible, and adhere to policies outlined in the Administrative Policy Manual and, when appropriate, the Student Code of Conduct.
- Posting personal or private information about a Beloit student, alumnus, or employee is prohibited and may be a violation of privacy laws and Beloit policy.
- All posts must comply with all applicable laws and regulations (e.g., FERPA, HIPAA, NCAA).
- Any recorded class discussion or any information that relates to students’ performances in the classroom must never be posted on social media.
- Public discussion of confidential personnel matters, confidential discussions about college business, or its confidential operations are strictly prohibited.
- No endorsements or advertisements for a political candidate or party, a product, or a business are permitted on official College accounts.
- Do not comment on trade secrets and proprietary College information (business, financial, and marketing strategies) without the advance approval of your supervisor or Human Resources.
- Do not use the College’s (or any of its affiliated entities’) logos, marks, or other protected information or property for any business/commercial venture without the applicable unit or department’s express written authorization.
- Do not post any content that may violate FERPA (prohibiting the unauthorized disclosure of a student’s educational records/personally identifiable information), HIPAA (prohibiting the unauthorized disclosure of patient health records), and NCAA Midwest Conference regulations when using social media sites.
- Content that includes discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct is not permitted and will not be tolerated
- Any content that violates these laws, regulations, and policies, or contains the release of a student’s private personal information is strictly prohibited.
Inappropriate postings and content that is in violation of the social media policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Policy infractions will be handled by the appropriate supervisor(s) in consultation with Human Resources. Infractions involving faculty will be referred to the appropriate department chair and/or the College Provost for disciplinary action. If a student violates the social media policy while working on an official college account, the case will be referred to their work supervisor. Student employment outcomes could include the loss of posting privileges and/or result in termination from their student employment role.
Nothing in this policy is meant to, nor should it be interpreted to, in any way limit the rights of any employee or student under any applicable federal, state, or local laws to engage in protected concerted activities. This policy does not, nor is it intended to, interfere with a faculty member’s right to engage in protected speech.
Personal and Professional Social Media Accounts (College Employees)
The College recognizes that social media activities can be personal, professional, and institutional endeavors and respects employee online social networking and internet use for personal and professional pursuits.
Beloit College’s policy on private social media accounts accords with the American Association of University Professors’ guidelines which recommend that college administrators and educators “should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.”
When using social media for professional or personal reasons, express only your own personal or professional opinions. Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for Beloit College or make knowingly false representations about your credentials or your work on social media. If Beloit College is a subject of the content you are creating, be clear and open about the fact that you are an employee and make it clear that your views do not represent those of the College, employees, students, volunteers, suppliers, vendors, or people working on behalf of the College. If you do publish a blog or post online related to the work you do or subjects associated with the College, make it clear that you are not speaking on behalf of the College. It is best to include a disclaimer in a prominent location such as:
The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Beloit College, its employees, vendors, students, and any other College-affiliated party or competition.
Employees must keep in mind that if they post information on a social media site that is in violation of College policy and/or federal, state, or local law, the disclaimer will not shield disciplinary action.
Faculty wanting to use public social media as part of teaching, learning, and research activities should take active steps to prevent violations of FERPA, HIPAA, and NCAA regulations. Any content or online activity created by the site owner or a poster that violates these ordinances or leads to the release of a student’s private information is prohibited and should be removed.
Requiring students to register for, post, upload, or otherwise communicate via a public social media platform (such as Facebook, Twitter, and others) raises concerns about privacy, accessibility, and equity that make such required assignments potentially problematic. If needed, the Provost’s office can help faculty determine whether proposed content or use of social media might create the potential for a violation of regulations.
Students should be informed about the public nature of their postings and that the content may be available on the Internet years beyond the end of a particular class. Copyright law must be respected and material created by the site owner or a poster must not infringe on someone else’s rights of publicity, privacy, copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights.
If you have questions or need further guidance regarding this policy, please contact Human Resources, the Provost’s office or the Chief Information Officer. For specific questions about opening or maintaining an official College social media account, contact C&IM.