Elon University Social Media Policy
This policy applies to Elon faculty, staff and students who utilize, manage or are responsible for oversight of social media accounts on behalf of the university and/or in their professional communications.
This policy relates to interactive online social media sites, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, Wikipedia and others.
All university personnel policies related to standards of personal conduct, unacceptable behaviors and use of the university’s resources also apply to the use of social media. The same policies and professional expectations for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media and other university constituents apply online as in other situations. Employees are liable for any activity they conduct using Elon University computers or devices, the Elon University network, Elon University email accounts or any activity that was conducted on the elon.edu domain. On personal social media accounts, if you identify yourself as an Elon faculty or staff member, you must be clear that you are sharing your personal views and not the views of Elon University.
The Office of University Communications has the right to amend this policy at any time. Failure to comply with this policy will be considered actionable behavior by the university and could result in disciplinary action up to and including suspension or termination, and in some cases civil and/or criminal liability.
Policies for All Social Media Activities
Protect Confidential and Proprietary Information
Any employee, student or vendor managing an Elon University social media account must adhere to all applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies. Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Elon University, students, employees or alumni. Pay particular attention to the applicable federal requirements, such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as to NCAA regulations. Sharing such private information can result in legal action against you and/or Elon University. Never post or comment on any legal matters, litigation or any parties with whom the university is in litigation.
Respect Copyright and Fair Use
At all times, adhere to copyright laws, fair use guidelines and the intellectual property rights of others and of the university. A good resource is the Electronic Frontier Foundation website.
Do Not Use Elon University Logos or Graphic Symbols for Endorsements
Do not use the university’s name or marks to promote a product, business, nonprofit organization, issue, cause or political party or candidate.
Respect University Time and Property
University computers and time on the job are provided for university-related business. Supervisors must make decisions on appropriate use of social media by employees in accordance with individual job responsibilities. In general, use of university equipment and work time for social media should be restricted to activities that benefit and support the mission and work of the university.
Terms of Service
Obey the terms of service of all social media platforms.
Posting on Behalf of an Elon University Department or Organization
Employees who manage Elon University social media accounts are responsible for what they post and must ensure all content is consistent with the university’s policies, mission and values. If you supervise students who are posting on behalf of the university, you are responsible for their actions on social media. Be aware that postings on social media may be available to anyone. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created or deleted, and comments can be forwarded or copied without your knowledge. If you wouldn’t say it in a public setting, don’t post it online. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input or contact the university’s social media manager in the Office of University Communications.
Acknowledge Who You Are
If you are representing Elon University when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge this clearly. Provide your Elon University contact information upon request. If you express an opinion on a site, make it clear the views are yours alone and not those of Elon University.
Strive for Accuracy
Confirm facts before posting information on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. Correct errors promptly and transparently.
Be Respectful and Polite
Understand that content contributed to a social media site will encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. In the same way that we foster respect for human differences on campus, make sure that your social media interactions are restrained and cautious, being especially careful about responding to criticism or engaging in online debate or sparring over an issue. Hostile, threatening or offensive content is prohibited.
In the event of an emergency or crisis situation at Elon University, the university’s main social media accounts, emergency communications systems and website should be considered the only sources of accurate information. University employees and students should not unilaterally post information about crises or emergencies, and in these situations should only share or repost information from the university’s central social media accounts, which are listed as the first entry on the official social media account directory.
Elon University Department/Organization Social Media Accounts
Creation of Elon University Social Media Accounts, Pages, Groups and Hashtags
Before launching a social media account on behalf of a unit of the university, the first step is to get approval from your supervisor. The department must commit to maintaining the account, determine the goals of investing the university’s resources in this effort and designate a person who will be responsible for the account and for creating content on a regular basis.
Once the department has determined it would like to establish the account, please fill out the social account request form. Once you meet with the university’s social media manager in the Office of University Communications, they will determine what options are best for your needs. If an account is needed, the social media manager will create the account through an institutional login and email address before providing access for individuals designated by departments to manage the page or account.
If your university department or unit is sponsoring an event or campaign and you’d like to create a unique account or event page, contact the university’s social media manager in the Office of University Communications for guidance. When possible, contact the social media manager prior to creating a dedicated hashtag for your department, event or campaign so that social media manager can aid in the promotion and use of the hashtag when appropriate.
Individuals must NOT create social media pages or accounts on behalf of departments or units of the university through personal or departmental logins. Tying these accounts to personal emails or logins makes it difficult or impossible to pass management of the accounts from one person to another when personnel changes occur. It also increases the risk of a university affiliated account being hacked.
If you are a manager/administrator for a Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn account that allows you to manage it through a personal login, it is a best practice to ensure your personal password is strong and unique from the passwords you use to log in to other online sites. If your personal account that is tied to the management of a department/unit account is compromised or hacked, alert University Communications immediately.
Because of the security considerations associated with social media systems, student workers who are allowed to manage department or program social media accounts should be monitored by a faculty or staff member and should not be given full administrative rights to the account. Supervisors of student workers who are managing university-related social media accounts are responsible for the actions of their student workers. Student workers posting to university-related social media accounts are governed by the terms of their employment, the Student Handbook and the Elon University Honor Code.
The university’s social media manager in the Office of University Communications must have access to the account at all times. Though content management of department/unit accounts might be left to one or several individuals, all accounts created and managed on behalf of a university department/unit belong to the university, not the individual who created or manages it.
University Communications encourages account managers to limit to three (3) the number of administrators/managers of a department social media account (in addition to the University Communications social media manager).
Previously Created Accounts and Pages
Departments or units of the university that have previously created social media accounts through personal logins by employees or have not registered their account with the University of Communications must fill out the social account registration form.
Content on Department Accounts
Social media managers must use a high-quality image or icon that is in line with Elon University’s Graphic Identity Standards to represent the department in the account’s profile/cover photos. If you don’t have access to an appropriate image or would like help creating one, contact the university’s social media manger. Some imagery, such as the university seal, may not be used as art for social media accounts. Make sure the account includes an accurate description of the department and contact information as well as a link to the department’s website on elon.edu.
Maintenance of Content
All social media accounts and pages must be actively maintained with regular posting of content by those responsible for those accounts. If you need help deciding what makes for good content or developing a strategy for creating or managing posts, social media manager. Accounts that are inactive, with no content posted within a three-month period, may be deleted by the Office of University Communications.
Managing User Comments
In keeping with the university’s mission as an institution that encourages freedom of thought and liberty of conscience, Elon University’s social media channels should allow participation and comments posted by users, even those that may be critical of the University or its programs. There are, however, situations in which posted comments and/or replies should be hidden or deleted from university-managed pages and accounts. These include:
- Comments that constitute a personal attack on an individual, or reveal private information about an individual, including but not limited to personal contact information or information that could reasonably be interpreted by the social media manager as potentially jeopardizing an individual’s safety, health or well-being.
- Libelous, threatening or obscene comments, or comments that promote illegal or prohibited activities. Threats of harm against individuals or organizations should be reported to Elon University Police.
- Comments that encourage or support discrimination against protected classes.
- Commercial messages meant to use the university’s social media sites as vehicles to promote businesses.
Blocking User Accounts
In general, user accounts should not be blocked from accessing or posting comments on Elon’s social media channels. If a user exhibits a persistent pattern of posting comments that must be hidden or deleted for the reasons listed under “Managing User Comments,” please contact the Office of University Communications for guidance about when it is appropriate to block an account.
Student Organization Social Media Accounts
The Office of University Communications does not create or manage accounts on behalf of recognized student organizations. Responsibility for the creation of a social media presence rests with the members of recognized student organizations. It is recommended that student organization leaders work with their advisors to devise a process to ensure continuity of access to accounts as membership changes over time. It is recommended that group advisors have the passwords and rights to administer the student organization accounts.
Ensure Proper Identification
Student organizations must be clear in descriptions of their accounts that they are not departments or offices of the university.
Standards for Social Media Conduct and Messages
All content published through social media accounts managed by student organizations is governed by existing policies in the Student Handbook and by the Elon University Honor Code.
University Communications staff are available to provide assistance and answer questions at 336-278-7415.