January 17, 2014 debbie.m

Crash Course in Social Media Policy

Is your Twitter feed or Facebook page your own private space?  That’s a hot topic in higher education right now. After the Kansas Board of Regents last month passed a controversial social media policy, many higher ed employees are concerned about their own school policies — and safeguarding their positions.

In December, the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, enacted a policy allowing school officials to discipline employees and faculty, including termination, for improper use of social media. It passed after a University of Kansas professor tweeted a critical comment about the National Rifle Association. (The professor was suspended but later reinstated). After an outcry from the community and free speech advocates, the board is reviewing the policy, but, for now, it stands.

Social media monitoring occurs at most schools, with minders searching for as much for promotable content as offensive posts. But the Kansas policy is by far the most rigid we’ve heard of, and a reminder that social media is very public indeed.  So what can social media users do to safeguard their free speech and their positions? Here are some sensible guidelines:

  • Learn your school’s social media policy. Follow it closely. If you’re in doubt, ask questions before you post or share.
  • Alert school social media coordinators if you’re setting up a university or college-related site, feed or group.
  • If other users work on the account, make sure they’re also aware of school policies. Keep an eye on their posts too.
  • Reread everything before you share. Remember, once you’ve posted on social media, there is a permanent record of your activity.
  • When posting video or photos, consider if the imagery is something that you want professional associates to see.
  • Check your posts for accuracy.
  • Remember, even if it is a personal account, as an employee of an institution, you’re considered a representative of your school.

What is your school’s social media policy and how does it impact your social media use?

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