Social media policy for employees
For the purpose of this policy, social media is defined as a type of interactive media that allows individuals to communicate with each other and/or to share data in a public space online.
Murray Edwards College (The ‘College’) recognises and embraces the benefits of social media and the opportunities it brings. It can be used to share news, information and success stories as well as keep current students and alumnae up to date with College activities. However, there is an inherent risk in using social media in so far as messages are instantaneous and potentially far reaching. Inappropriate use of social media can have a negative impact on students, staff, Fellows and alumnae as well as affecting the reputation of the College.
All members of staff are encouraged to engage and collaborate through social media. However, in doing so, each individual must be aware of the potential impact of their actions on themselves, the College and more broadly, the University.
Purpose of the policy
This policy is intended to minimise the risks associated with using social media on a personal and professional basis.
Who does this policy apply to?
This policy applies to all members of staff who create or contribute to any kind of social media activity, including but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram posts, blogs, forums and wikis. This policy applies to all forms of social media where there is potential impact on the College or the University, whether for work-related or personal purposes, whether during working hours or not, whether social media is accessed via the College’s IT facilities and equipment, or equipment belonging to either members of staff or third parties.
- Employees should only comment within their own area of expertise to provide individual perspectives on non-confidential activities at the College and University.
- Members of the College should never represent themselves, the College or the University in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true; all claims must be substantiated.
- Use common sense and courtesy. Employees should ask permission to publish internal conversations. The College’s policies and procedures should not be violated by an employee’s efforts to be transparent.
- Where employees access social media for work-related purposes or for personal use using the College’s IT facilities and equipment, the College’s IT regulations will apply.
- Where appropriate, the College reserves the right to monitor the use of social media platforms and to take appropriate action against any misuse that may be harmful to the College or the University.
- Employees should seek guidance from the College’s Head of Communications before participating in a what may be considered a sensitive subject online (for example, intellectual property rights, issues affecting the College’s and/or the University’s reputation, a crisis situation).
- If an employee uses social media in any way that may be considered derogatory, discriminatory, bullying, threatening, defamatory, offensive, intimidating, harassing, creating legal liability for the College, bringing the College into disrepute, or breaching any College policies and procedures, the College may take disciplinary action.
- Employees should not engage in illegal activities through social media.
- Employees should not engage in any activity through social media that promotes terrorism.
- The College’s response to the misuse of social media in a personal capacity will be reasonable and proportionate to the perceived offence, the nature of the post and the impact (potential or otherwise) on the College and/or University.
- The College may require employees to remove social media posts that are deemed to constitute a breach of the principles outlined above. Failure to comply with such a request may result in disciplinary action.
- Employees should be transparent. Where appropriate, they should make it clear they work for Murray Edwards College and are posting either about or on behalf of the College.
- Employees are discouraged from posting online anonymously or using pseudonyms.
- Employees should never impersonate somebody else.
- Employees are personally responsible for their words and actions online.
- Line managers are responsible for addressing any questions and/or concerns arising out of the use of social media.
- The College’s Head of Communications is responsible for giving specialist advice on the use of social media.
Policy for setting up College social media pages
This policy is focused solely on the setting up and use of social media pages by departments wishing to communicate their work to internal and external audiences. This policy covers all forms of social media including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the ‘Social media policy for employees’(above).
Any member of the College community considering setting up a social media page for their department must ensure they follow the principles detailed below:
- Employees must have authorisation from the Head of Communications before setting up a new social media page.
- If authorisation is given, a document must be drawn up and agreed with Head of Communications, clearly stating the purpose of the page(s), the employees authorised to post on the page and how the content will be regularly updated, managed and monitored. One employee in the department should have overall responsibility for the page(s) but it is acceptable for other employees to manage the day-to-day running of the page(s).
- Once authorised and set up, the page will become an official College social media page and will belong to the College. Upon leaving employment with the College, the employee in question will be asked to give the login details for the page to the Head of Communications.
- All comments, queries or messages addressed to the page(s) should be responded to within 48 working hours.
- Regularly change passwords: at least once every term or upon staffing changes, to reduce the risk of hacking.
- The Head of Communications will maintain a log of all authorised College social media pages to ensure there is no duplication and that only authorised pages are in place.
- Regular monitoring will take place of activities on social media pages to ensure that at no time employees, or other contributors, are posting inappropriate or defamatory comments.
- The College does not wish to unnecessarily restrict content on social media. However, we will not permit disclosure of confidential information, or any content that could defame our College and its members, our suppliers or our customers. Likewise no disclosure of personal data or information about any individual that could breach the Data Protection Act 1998 should be added. The College’s view on any such content is final.
- Failure to adhere to these guidelines could result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
- The employee responsible for the departmental page(s) must report to the Head of Communications annually on the use of such social media pages.
Social media guidelines
- Familiarise yourself with privacy settings. Ensure these are appropriate for both the content you share and your intended audience.
- Do not assume you have privacy. Social media platforms are in the public domain and it is not always possible to be sure what is being viewed or shared, even if you have the highest privacy settings available.
- Apologise when you need to. We all make mistakes. Apologise for any errors and make sure you learn from them for any future social media activity.
- Do not get drawn into public debate. If you find yourself having a public debate with someone on social media, try to move it into the private domain. You can do this by asking the person in question to continue the discussion via direct message, email or phone.
- Do not talk about religion or politics. To comment or state opinions about things of a religious or political nature (in anything other than academic terms) is to invite debate and sometimes argument.
- Do not share links to inappropriate websites. If you are not sure whether a website is appropriate, avoid linking to it as a precaution.
- Do not be negative. It is only natural that certain educational issues will irritate you or cause you concern. However, since you are a member of the College, your posts represent the College’s thinking. This is true even if you include a disclaimer in your biography (on Twitter, for example), which states that the views you share are purely your own.
- Do not share confidential information. This includes discussing financial performance.
- Do not swear. You wouldn’t swear at students, colleagues or alumnae face-to-face. When you are online, you are face-to-face with key stakeholders.