Washington State University Libraries Social Media Policy1
Social media are powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Because they blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, the WSU Libraries has crafted the following policy to help clarify how best to enhance and protect institutional, professional, and personal reputations when participating in social media.
Social media are defined as media designed to be used to disseminate information through online social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Examples include but are not limited to blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Both in professional and institutional roles, employees need to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in real life. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents,alumni, donors, media, and other university constituents apply online as in person. Employees are liable for anything they post to social media sites.The WSU Faculty Manual (http://facsen.wsu.edu/faculty_manual/) should serve as guide for professional and institutional voice.
This policy requires that:
- Each WSU Libraries social media account will have a responsible administrator/s assigned.
- Employees are liable for anything they post to WSU Libraries social media sites.
- Best practices for social media accounts should be followed.
Section 1: General Guidelines for Social Media Sites
- WSU Social Media Guide: WSU Media Relations maintains the official WSU Social Media Guide for policies and best practices. Available at: http://www.wsunews.wsu.edu/default.asp?Action=Updated&PageID=298
- Confidentiality: Do not post confidential information about Washington State University , students, employees or alumni.Employees must follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPA, as well as NCAA regulations. Adhere to all applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination.
- Copyright: Consider copyright and fair use laws when posting information. Contact the Washington State University Copyright Office for questions, concerns, and clarifications.
- Do not use the Washington State University Logo for Endorsements: Do not use the WSU logo on personal social media sites. Do not use WSU’s name to promote a product, cause, or political party or candidate.
Section 2: Institutional Social Media
When you post on behalf of an official university unit, the following policies must be adhered to in addition to all policies and best practices listed above:
- Acknowledge who you are: If you are representing WSU and/or the Library when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge this.
- Have a plan: Library Units should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date.
- Link back to the university: Whenever possible, link back to the WSU or Libraries Web site.
- Protect the institutional voice: Posts on social media sites should protect the library’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual WSU library unit should construe its social media site as representing the university or library as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post—names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department or unit rather than to the institution as a whole.
- Seek Approval: Any messages that might act as the “voice” or position of the university or a school/college/unit must be approved by the university or the director of the school/college/unit or their delegate.
- Be Timely: Assign an administrator who will regularly monitor postings and content. Aim for standard times for postings and updates. The recommended minimum frequency is once to twice a week. But be sure not to overload your updates. Followers will stop paying attention if you overload them with information.
Section 3: Best Practices
This section applies to those posting on behalf of an official university unit, though the guidelines may be helpful for anyone posting on social media in any capacity.
- Privacy: Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. If you wouldn’t say it at a conference or to a member of the media, do not post it online.
- Be Accurate: Verify content prior to posting on a social media site. Check for spelling and grammatical errors.
- Be Respectful: Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Encourage open dialogue and diverse viewpoints. Respond to each comment with respect and understanding. Discussion of opposing viewpoints is encouraged, but do not engage in online confrontation.
- Know your Audience: Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
- Personal Sites: Identify your views as your own. If you identify yourself as a WSU faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.
- Allow Comments: Even the negative ones. A good philosophy for comments is to encourage thoughtful discussion, debate and differing viewpoints, with the understanding that all comments made must be civil, respectful, and appropriate for your audience. If comments are lewd, libelous, incite violence or are otherwise hurtful or hateful speech directed at either individuals or groups, WSU library employees who serve as account administrators reserve the right to delete such comments.
- Be Aware of Liability: You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.
1Adapted from the Social Media Policy of Ball State University.
Approved by the WSU Libraries Web Working Group - 09/08/11