Social Media Guidelines

Revision Date: April 2020

Introduction

Social media resources and applications that allow you to interact with others online require careful consideration to assess the implications of "friending," "liking," "linking," "following" or accepting requests from other people. For example, there is the possibility of individuals misrepresenting relationships or potential for shared, protected information to be distributed to other individuals. Relationships such as faculty-student, doctor-patient, supervisor-subordinate and staff-student merit close consideration of the implications and the nature of the social interaction. As a result, there are significant differences between individuals representing themselves on public social media sites, individuals representing the University on these sites and individuals using University-hosted social media. The University has a substantial investment in University-owned public social media resources. Content on these pages and sites reflects directly on the institution and how it is viewed by the media, general public, alumni, donors and other partners.   

The following represents University of Detroit Mercy’s Social Media General Guidelines to help individuals utilize social media resources for professional purposes in an effective and engaging manner.

General Guidelines

Sharing Detroit Mercy news, events or promoting faculty and student work through social media tools is an exceptional and cost-efficient way to engage the community and build the University brand. Employees should feel free to repost and share information with their family and friends that is available to the public (press releases, articles in University publications, websites, etc.). The most practical and efficient way to share this information is to link to the original source. When sharing information that is not a matter of public record, please follow the guidelines below.

Maintain Confidentiality

Do not post confidential or proprietary information about University of Detroit Mercy, its students, its alumni or your fellow employees. Use good ethical judgment and follow University policies and federal requirements, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Review https://www.udmercy.edu/faculty-staff/hr/benefits/hipaa.php for HIPAA requirements and https://www.udmercy.edu/current-students/registrar/ferpa.php. Review https://www.udmercy.edu/faculty-staff/hr/policies.php for your responsibilities as an employee. It is important to note that a social media site can be used for instructional purposes. Student content created and/or posted to fulfill a course assignment using social media does not violate student privacy rights. However, posting materials submitted directly to a faculty member may be a violation of FERPA policy. Be sure to exercise careful attention to student information and err on the side of caution in these instances. When using social media for instructional purposes, proper planning will ensure that student, faculty and University rights are protected.

Intellectual Property and Copyright

Respect intellectual property rights and copyright at all times when utilizing social media networks for either personal or professional purposes. When posting content owned by others, an individual must comply with all licensing and copyright requirements. For example, some materials may allow posting under Creative Commons Licensing which may have more liberal use terms. A book publisher, however, may have more restrictive use terms. When in doubt, request permission from the publisher, content owner or content creator. Apply these same considerations to institutional materials and the materials obtained from colleagues. For more information, please visit https://www.udmercy.edu/academics/academic-affairs/ospra/compliance/intellectual.php

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 University Time and Property

It is appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, such as seeking sources for information or working with others to resolve a problem. You should participate in personal social media conversations on your own time.

Do No Harm

Your Internet social networking must not in any way harm University of Detroit Mercy or yourself whether you are navigating those networks on the job or on your personal time.

Understand Your Personal Responsibility

Detroit Mercy staff and faculty are personally responsible for the content they

publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated content. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for significant periods of time—protect your privacy.

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. 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.

Maintain Transparency

Although the separation between professional and personal business may be blurry, you should be thoughtful about the content of your posting and impact on potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a Detroit Mercy faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of Detroit Mercy. This must be clear in your personal social media postings and it must be clear that opinions are not those of the University.

Correct Mistakes

If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—be sure to make it clear that you have done so.

Respect Others

You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

Be a Valued Member

If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Avoid conglomerating discussions and redirect by posting self/organizational promotional information. Do not use membership to promote yourself or your organization. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups. Do not use the University name to endorse products, causes, political parties or candidates.

Think Before Posting

Do not assume that social media sites are private. Search engines reveal posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, consider delaying a post until you are calm and clear-headed. Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (current and future peers, employers, etc.).

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    Social Media Guidelines When Posting as an Individual

    Detroit Mercy uses social media to supplement traditional press and as a marketing tactical service. Employees are encouraged to share University news and events, which are a matter of public record, with their family and friends. Linking straight to the information source is an efficient way to help promote the mission of the University and build community. When you might be perceived online as an agent/expert of Detroit Mercy, you must make sure it is clear to the audience that you are not representing the position of Detroit Mercy or University policy. While the guidelines below apply only to those instances where there is the potential for confusion about your role as a Detroit Mercy agent/expert versus personal opinion, they are good to keep in mind for all social media interactions. When posting to a social media site you should:

    Be Authentic

    Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a Detroit Mercy faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your personal views and are not speaking as a formal representative of Detroit Mercy. If you identify yourself as a member of the Detroit Mercy community, ensure your profile and related content are consistent with how you wish to present yourself to colleagues.

    Use a Disclaimer

    If you publish content to any website outside of Detroit Mercy and it involves work you do or subjects associated with the University, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and do not represent Detroit Mercy's positions, strategies or opinions."

    Do Not Use the Detroit Mercy logo or Make Endorsements

    Do not use the Detroit Mercy logo, wordmark, athletic logo or any other Detroit Mercy marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use Detroit Mercy’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate. Guidelines for appropriate, approved use of Detroit Mercy logos and trademarks are available at http://www.udmercy.edu/faculty-staff/marcom/brand-logo.php

    Take the High Ground

    If you identify your affiliation with Detroit Mercy in your comments, readers may associate you with the University, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you are most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly. Do not pick fights online.

    Avoid/Do Not Use Pseudonyms

    Do not pretend to be someone else. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors.

    Protect Your Identity

    While you should be honest about yourself, do not provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use. Do not list your home address or telephone number. It is a good idea to create a separate e-mail address that is used only with social media sites.

    Does it Pass the Publicity Test?

    If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it is unacceptable for a social networking site. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or 10 years from now?

    Respect Your Audience and Avoid Cyberbullying

    Do not use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in Detroit Mercy’s community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive — such as politics and religion.

    Additionally, avoid all forms of cyberbullying. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Harassment: The bully sends malicious and offensive messages to a person and does so many times. This is a form of cyberstalking in the worst cases, and involves constant threatening and rude messages. It can eventually lead to physical harassment.
    • Flaming: This activity is similar to harassment. The difference is that it is a fight that occurs online that is done via email, texts and chat. It is a form of public, online bullying that can lead to very serious outcomes with harsh language and images shared about a particular person. This seems odd?
    • Exclusion: This is the act of singling out a person and leaving him or her out of an online group or site. The group will then harass the person that has been left out of the group.
    • Outing: When a bully shares a person’s personal and private information, including images and video in some cases. A person has been ‘outed’ if that person’s information is widely available online.
    • Masquerading: This is where the bully creates a false identity to harass a person on an anonymous basis. The cyberbully may also impersonate another person so to send that person nasty messages in the other person’s name.
    • Fraping: When a person logs onto the victim’s social media accounts and pretends to be that person. This is a very serious offense that some may think is entertaining, but it can ruin another person’s reputation. Google generally will not forget anything that has been posted even if it is deleted so this is a very serious form of cyberbullying.
    • Trolling: This is the intentional act of getting a response online by using insults and bad language on social forums and social media sites. It is common for the troll to put down the victim and try to make the person angry and respond in kind.

    Monitor Comments

    Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments— it builds credibility and community. However, you may be able
to set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post insensitive or frivolous comments. A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is
to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their "About Me" page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: "The views expressed on this [blog, website] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of University of Detroit Mercy." This is particularly important if you could be perceived to be in a leadership role at Detroit Mercy.

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    Social Media Guidelines When Posting On Behalf of University of Detroit Mercy

    Online collaboration tools provide low-cost communication methods that foster open exchanges and learning. While social media tools are changing the way we work and how we connect with the public and other higher education institutions, Detroit Mercy policies and practices for sharing information remain the same. In addition to the general guidelines discussed above, when you are creating or posting to a social media site on behalf of Detroit Mercy, you need to:

    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’s MarCom Office or the director of the school/college/unit or their delegate.

    Be Accurate

    Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. It is better to verify information with a source first than to have to post a correction or retraction later. Cite and link to your sources whenever possible -- that’s how you build community.

    Be Transparent

    If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the University, clearly state your role and goals. Keep in mind that if you are posting with a University username, other users do not know you personally. They view what you post as coming from the University. Be careful and be respectful. What you say directly reflects on the University. Discuss with your supervisor the circumstances in which you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval

    Be Responsible

    What you write is ultimately your responsibility. Participation in social computing on behalf of Detroit Mercy is not a right but an opportunity, so please treat it seriously and with respect. If you want to participate on behalf of the University, be sure to abide by its standard practice guidelines.

    Respect Others

    Users are free to discuss topics and disagree with one another, but please be respectful of opinions expressed by other people. You are more likely
to achieve your goals if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.

    Be a Valued Member

    If you join a social network like a Facebook group or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Post information about topics like Detroit Mercy events or a book you have authored only when you are sure it will be of interest to readers. In some forums, self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.

    Be Thoughtful

    If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain kinds of material in your role as a Detroit Mercy employee, ask your supervisor before you post.

    Use of University Brand

    If you wish to use University brands (logos, identifiers, etc.) or create a social media site on behalf of the University that would include our brand, contact the MarCom office at marcom@udmercy.edu first. You may also visit https://udmercy.edu/brand. MarCom will provide guidance and training to you.