Title: Policy for Official Social Media Accounts
Approved by: Board of Trustees, University President
Date approved: October 2014
Effective date: January 2015
Responsible Official: Vice President, University Marketing and Communications
Responsible University Office: University Marketing and Communications
Revision History: N/A
Related legislation and University policies: N/A
Review Period: 5 Years
Date of Last Review: January 2015
Relates to: Faculty, Staff, Students
Official social media accounts are accounts that University Marketing and Communications authorizes to represent the university through social media.
Anyone managing or contributing to an official social media account must follow this policy concerning that account. This includes anyone managing or contributing to a social media channel on behalf of a school, department, office or other official entity at the university. Personal opinions should not be expressed through official social media accounts.
The Policy for Official Social Media Accounts only applies to posts on official accounts. It does not apply to interactions individuals may have on their personal social media accounts—as long as such communications do not indicate that the individual is speaking on behalf of the university. And, of course, best practices always apply, no matter where posts appear.
This policy does not apply to student organizations. Organizations should follow the guidance of their governing bodies and, when necessary, the direction of the Division of Student Affairs. Those student organizations that use the university’s logo must not manipulate it in any way. In addition, the university reserves the right to monitor and restrict how its logo and name are used.
This policy applies to all social media platforms, including but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and blogs. It is meant to be a living document that will transform as technologies change.
Accounts created prior to February 2017 must register with UMC by Feb. 28, 2017. After February 2017, social media managers must register new accounts with UMC prior to being created. This policy applies to every social media platform.
The process of registration begins with a request to University Marketing and Communications (UMC) to become an authorized social media representative. University Marketing and Communications reserves the right to determine what accounts are deemed “official” and, as such, can use the university’s name, logo and otherwise speak on behalf of the university.
To register, you must complete a form that includes:
- the name of the account (proposed or existing),
- URL (if existing),
- contact information for the account administrator and a backup administrator,
- a brief overview of your goals, audience, strategy and measurements for success, and
- an exit plan—meaning, if you need to remove your account, how will you do so?
Users also will be required to update (or maintain) the account administrator contact information every six months, to ensure continuity. In addition, you must agree to abide by the crisis communication guidelines.
In the event of an emergency, Case Western Reserve University must communicate a unified message across all channels. Social media pages increasingly are among the first places community members go for details on an emergency, what is being done, and what they should do to stay safe. They often will look for Case Western Reserve-related pages on Facebook and Twitter, searching terms such as “Case Western Reserve University,” “Case,” “CWRU,” etc.
Therefore, those who open or run a social media account that bears any named relationship to the university (i.e. contains the name “Case Western Reserve University,” “Case,” “CWRU” or the like), users must agree to:
- immediately update the page with approved messaging only from Case Western Reserve’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts (if updates are possible),
- not spread rumors or hearsay, and
- share critical information seen on social media with representatives from University Marketing and Communications.
Social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, require account administrators be “authorized representatives” for the pages they maintain. Only administrators who have agreed to this protocol will be “authorized representatives” for Case Western Reserve University pages. Failure to comply with this policy may result in closure of the social media page or account.
Facebook Business Manager
Facebook accounts using the university name, logo or representing Case Western Reserve in an official capacity must use Facebook Business Manager (business.facebook.com) and add a representative from University Marketing and Communications as an account administrator on their Facebook pages.
Though users still will be responsible for following the crisis communications guidelines—and for posting and monitoring all of the content on their pages—this will help ensure continuity on pages in the event account managers leave the university. UMC will not try to “control” pages or post updates; this is simply another outlet to ensure that, if offensive posts are added to a page, an additional way exists for them to be removed. It also provides continuity if there is turnover within the department.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Relevant University Policies and Procedures
Social media usage is governed by the same policies that govern all other electronic communications. Read the following policies before using any social media.
- Acceptable Use of Computing and Information Technology Resources Policy
- Conflict of Interest Policy
- Faculty Senate Handbook Professional Responsibilities (Academic Freedom)
Advertising on behalf of external vendors is prohibited on Case Western Reserve University websites and social media presences, with the exception of Case Western Reserve University Athletics, through its media rights provider.
All social media sites have policies and terms of service that should be reviewed and agreed to before use.
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Case Western Reserve University, its administrators, students, employees or alumni. Follow all university policies, federal requirements—such as HIPAA and FERPA—and NCAA regulations.
Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals without their permission. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn't present the information in a public forum, don’t post it online. Follow all university policies and guidelines on the appropriate handling of student, employee and patient information.
Individuals are responsible for what they post, whether on personal or university-affiliated accounts. As such, they can be held liable for posts deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous or obscene. Verify all information as fact before posting, and cite and link to sources if appropriate.
Case Western Reserve is committed to ensuring that digital materials are available and accessible to all members of the campus community, including individuals with disabilities. Social media administrators should take steps to reduce barriers to access for individuals with disabilities by, for example, enabling screen-reader compatibility, captioning videos and adding descriptive tags on images. Most major social media platforms provide access solutions for individuals with disabilities, but all administrators must do their part to alleviate any barriers.
When using photographs or graphics, repurposing content or sharing information, be mindful of copyright and fair use laws. Images cannot be “taken” off the Internet without explicit permission from the owner. Individuals must secure permission when including copyrighted or trademarked material and include a permission statement or disclaimer, as required by the owner. For more information, visit the U.S. Copyright Office at copyright.gov.
The university retains a trademark on its name (“Case Western Reserve University”) as well as other iterations, including “Case” and “CWRU,” and the phrase “think beyond the possible.” Use of these terms in account names, Twitter handles or bios could be a trademark violation if used to misrepresent the university.
Once an account is designated by UMC as “official,” it is considered an authorized representative of the university; as such, administrators can use the university’s name in materials, as long as use is consistent with this policy.
The university’s logos also are trademarked and can be used only by authorized social media accounts. UMC has created a suite of approved social media icons in appropriate sizes. Email email@example.com to request one.
Political statements (whether in text or visual form) generally should not be made on official accounts. As a tax-exempt organization, the university is prohibited from participating in a political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate and is subject to other requirements. To ensure that the university does not run afoul of these rules, anyone seeking to post a political statement on an official account must first submit the statement to UMC for review and approval in coordination with other offices.
Per section 2741 of the Ohio Revised Code, higher education institutions are permitted to use an individual’s photo without explicit permission if both of the following apply:
- The individual is or was a student at, or a member of the faculty or staff of, the institution of higher education.
- The use of the individual's persona is for educational purposes or for the promotion of the institution of higher education and its educational or institutional objectives.
University accounts must include a statement somewhere on their social media pages that explain who to contact if an individual wants his/her photo removed from the page.
When it comes to social media accounts, the level of password security varies; some accounts are tied to personal logins, while others allow a separate login and password.
All passwords for social media accounts—even if connected to a personal account—should be updated every 180 days (once per semester), per the university’s password policy. In addition, passwords should meet the same complexity standards as outlined by University Technology:
- Must contain eight or more characters
- Must include at least three of the following:
- Uppercase letters
- Lowercase letters
- When using common dictionary words, no more than four consecutive letters can be used.
Passwords should be changed immediately when an individual with access to your account leaves the department/organization/unit. All passwords should be stored securely in a password management tool, with access granted to or removed from individuals as necessary.
Changing passwords regularly helps protect from hacking, identity theft or a number of other security risks. It also helps ensure that unauthorized users cannot gain access to accounts, and mitigate overall risk.
If users have any questions about password recommendations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Social media accounts must be regularly maintained and updated. University Marketing and Communications recommends Facebook pages be updated at least three times per week, and Twitter no less than once per business day. An abundance of inactive accounts reflects poorly on the communications strategy of the entire university. Therefore, accounts that have been inactive for more than two months may be subject to deactivation or deletion.
Representatives from University Marketing and Communications will periodically monitor accounts for activity and contact the appropriate administrator (or backup) to discuss inactivity.
Please note: Accounts won’t be automatically removed; University Marketing and Communications first will contact the administrator (and back-up administrator), followed by the leader of the department, unit or organization, to discuss options before deactivation.
If you want, or are asked, to remove a social media account, please take the following steps to ensure no data is lost in the process:
- Go to Account Settings
- Click "General" in the left-hand column
- Click on "Download a copy of your Facebook data"
- Click "Start My Archive"
Following these steps provides a record of posts you’ve shared, lists of fans and general Facebook activity.
- Go to “Settings”
- Under “Account,” click “Request Your Archive.”
- Download and save the file emailed to you
This provides a record of your complete Twitter activity for future reference.