Social media outlets 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, Alvernia has adopted the following policy to clarify how to best enhance and protect personal and professional reputations when participating in social media.
Social media refers to the use of web-based and mobile technologies for communication and interactive dialogue. Examples include but are not limited to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and SnapChat.
Alvernia takes no position on your decision to start or maintain a blog or participate in other social networking activity, however employees need to follow appropriate behavioral standards. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other university constituents apply to web-based interaction. For conduct standards, consult the Alvernia University Employee Handbook and the most recent Student Handbook.
Members of the campus community are reminded that the Alvernia network, network resources and equipment are intended to assist the community in achieving all aspects of the university’s mission including education, administration and the mission of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters. All Alvernia policies that govern academic and personal behavior equally apply to campus computing resources. Additional policies and guidelines may also apply to users of particular systems and equipment on the campus network or that communicate with resources on the network. Similarly, federal, state and local laws concerning libel, harassment, privacy, copyright, theft, and threats also apply to computing environments and may be prosecuted by law enforcement officials.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA – A PRIMER
If you do participate in social media using university owned resources, remember that all contents of Alvernia’s IT resources and communications systems are the property of the university. Therefore, employees should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever in any message, files, data, document, facsimile, social media post, conversation, or message, or any other kind of information or communications transmitted to, received or printed from, or stored or recorded on electronic information and communications systems.
In order to prevent misuse, the university reserves the right to monitor, intercept, and review, without further notice, every employee’s activities using IT resources and communications systems, including but not limited to social media postings and activities. Your consent to such monitoring is validated by your acknowledgment of these policy standards and your use of such resources and systems. This might include, without limitation, the monitoring, interception, accessing, recording, disclosing, inspecting, reviewing, retrieving and printing of transactions, messages, communications, postings, log-ins, recordings and other uses of the systems as well as keystroke capturing and other network monitoring technologies. The university also may store copies of such data or communications for a period of time after they are created, and may delete such copies from time to time without notice.
Social media at work
Use of university computers and your time in the workplace is intended for university-related business as approved by supervisors and in accordance with the Responsible Use of Technology Policy (www.alvernia.edu/it/responsible-use.html). However, we recognize that faculty and staff may occasionally desire to use social media for personal activities while at work by using IT resources and communication systems. Such occasional use is permitted if it does not involve unprofessional or inappropriate content and does not interfere with timely completion of work or personal productivity.
Do not use the university’s IT resources and communications systems for any matter that you desire to be kept private or confidential from the institution.
Remember that you are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individuals can been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, or obscene. You are also reminded to obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform you use.
SECTION 1: POLICIES FOR POSTING ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSITY
If you post content on a social media site on behalf of the university or a university department or area of the university you must adhere to the following policies. Students involved in registered student clubs and organizations are also expected to abide by these policies. For details, refer to the Student Handbook which contains comprehensive and specific policy information related to social media use by members of student clubs and organizations, as well as guidelines and policies for social media use by all Alvernia students.
Notify the university: Departments, units or individuals that would like to initiate an Alvernia branded presence on a social media outlet should obtain the approval of their area Vice President and then coordinate their plans with Alvernia’s Marketing and Communications Department to ensure the institutional social media presence is managed appropriately. All institutional pages must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content. Ideally, the head of the department is responsible for oversight of the content posted. Alvernia’s Marketing and Communications Department reserves the right to delete pages that aren’t approved.
- Have a plan: Departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date. Alvernia’s Marketing and Communications Department can assist and advise you with your social media planning.
- Link back to the university: Whenever possible, link back to the Alvernia University website. Ideally, posts should be very brief, redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the Alvernia University web environment. When linking to a news article about Alvernia University, check first to see whether you can link to a story on the Alvernia University News Center (www.alvernia.edu/news/) instead of to a publication or other media outlet.
- Protect the institutional voice: Posts on social media sites should protect the university’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual Alvernia unit should construe its social media site as representing the university as a whole, unless approved by Alvernia’s Marketing and Communications Department. 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.
SECTION 2: BEST PRACTICES
This section applies to those posting on behalf of a university department, though the guidelines may be helpful for anyone posting on social media in any capacity. Consistent with the University's mission statement, the user should think about the ethics and responsibility associated with posting content online or within a social network.
- Think twice before posting: Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Be aware that a presence in social media is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers, colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input or contact the Director of Marketing at 610-790-1938.
- Strive for accuracy: Get the facts straight before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. If you are unsure about institutional facts do not post them until you have confirmed them by contacting the Marketing and Communications Department.
- Be respectful: Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the poster and/or the university and its institutional mission. Social media should never be used in a way that defames or disparages Alvernia or its stakeholders.
- Photography: Visitors can easily appropriate photographs posted on social media sites. Consider adding a watermark and/or posting images at 72 dpi and approximately 800x600 resolution to protect your intellectual property. Images at that size are sufficient for viewing on the Web, but not suitable for printing. Remember that copying and pasting images is against copyright laws and apply online as well as in print. If you have questions regarding the usage or purchase of the university’s images, please contact the Marketing and Communications Department at 610-796-8281.
SECTION 3: POLICIES FOR ALL SOCIAL MEDIA SITES, INCLUDING PERSONAL SITES AND BLOGGING
- Protect confidential and proprietary information: Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Alvernia University, students, employees, or alumni. Employees must follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPAA, as well as NCAA regulations in their social media interactions. All applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies apply to social media. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action up to and including termination.
- Maintain privacy: Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their permission. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum.
- Respect copyright and fair use: When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the university. For guidance, consult the guidelines for Copyright and Fair Use Policy in the Alvernia Employee Handbook. Questions regarding this policy or what options may be available for resolving issues arising under it may be referred to department/division managers, departmental chairs, the Copyright Committee, the Office of the Provost or Human Resources.
- Don’t use Alvernia University logos for endorsements: Do not use the Alvernia University logo or any other university images or iconography on personal social media sites. Do not use Alvernia University’s name to promote a product, cause, political party, or candidate. Unless specifically instructed, employees are not authorized to speak on behalf of the university. If you disclose your affiliation with Alvernia, you should also include a disclaimer that your views do not represent the views of the university.
SECTION 4: SAFETY AND PRIVACY TIPS FOR SOCIAL NETWORKING
The previous material covers specific polices and guidelines for social media use. The following section offers common sense recommendations for responsible and safe use, in the best interests of Alvernia:
On personal sites, identify your views as your own: The line between professional and personal business is sometimes blurred. Be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as an Alvernia University faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of the university.
- Set privacy settings to help control who can look at your profile, personal information and photos. You can limit access somewhat but not completely, and you have no control over what someone else may share.
- Think about how much information you want to share with strangers. Not everyone will respect your personal or physical space.
- Consider the image you are projecting by the materials and photos you are posting. Is it one that you want current and future friends or colleagues to know you by? What does your profile say to Alvernia community members and students?
- What if you change your mind about a post? For instance, what if you want to remove something you posted as a joke or to make a point? It is important to read the social networking site’s privacy and caching statements. Removing material from network caches can be difficult. Posted material can remain accessible on the Internet until you’ve completed the prescribed process for removing information from the caching technology of one or multiple (potentially unknown) search engines.
- It is important that personal equipment have spyware and virus protections installed. Some sites collect profile information to spam you. Others contain links that can infect equipment with viruses that can destroy data and infect others with whom you communicate. Remember to back up your work on an external source in case of destructive attacks.
SECTION 5: MISUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Users are not permitted to use Alvernia computing resources to create, transmit or store threatening or harassing materials. You should not produce or transmit any work that has the intent or effect of unreasonably interfering with individual or a group’s educational or work performance at Alvernia or elsewhere, or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational, work or living environment. This includes viewing, sending or making available offensive materials, unless such activity is appropriate for academic or work purpose. Users of all such services have a responsibility to use these services properly and to respect the rights of others in their use of these services and in accordance with published terms of service. All relevant Alvernia policies apply to the use of these services, but in particular:
- Users may not produce, publish, transmit or distribute materials using the Alvernia network that are contrary to the mission and identity of the university.
- Users may not use these services in violation of any applicable laws.
- Use that might contribute to creation of a hostile academic or work environment is prohibited.
- Any unauthorized commercial, non-profit, political or advocacy use not required for course work, research, or the conduct of Alvernia business is prohibited.
- Any non-incidental personal use such as advertisements, solicitations, or promotions is prohibited.
- Alvernia administrators have authorized certain individuals to send electronic mail to large groups such as faculty, staff, students, specific classes or groups, alumni, etc., or to the entire Alvernia community. These lists are not open to posts from the community at large. When using these lists, it is the sender’s obligation to understand the service and to protect the recipients from intentional or unintentional disclosure of private information.
- Any content posted to a service that is inconsistent with these rules, as well as unsolicited mail from outside of Alvernia (e.g., SPAM) may be subject to automated interception, quarantine and disposal. Furthermore, violation of the policies and procedures set forth in the Social Media Policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
Alvernia requests and strongly urges employees to report any violations or possible or perceived violations to their supervisor, manager or the HR department.