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I. Introduction

Social media involves powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Because the use of social media may blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, Mississippi College (MC) has established the following policy to clarify how best to enhance and protect the University, as well as personal and professional reputations, when participating in social media.

Both in professional and institutional roles, employees are expected to follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in the real world. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, and other University constituents apply. Employees are accountable for any institutionally related content they post to social media sites.

II. Definition

Social media is defined as media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques online.

Examples include, but are not limited to, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, iTunes U, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram

III. Social Media Posts Related to or on Behalf of Mississippi College

  1. Think twice before posting. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect both on the owner of the content and MC. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. If you would not say it at a conference or to a member of the media, consider whether you should post it online. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for advice or contact the Office of Public Relations.
  2. Strive for accuracy. Check your facts before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. This is especially important if posting on behalf of MC in any capacity. Do not post spam, remarks that are off-topic or offensive, or content that could negatively impact MC’s reputation or interfere with its core mission.
  3. 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 owner of the content and/or MC and its institutional voice.
  4. Be active. Social media presences require diligent care and attention. An effective social media site requires regular updates and fresh or engaging content.
  5. Consider your audience and the potential reaction to your content. Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, patients, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
  6. Be transparent and state that you work at MC. If you are writing about MC, use your real name, identify that you work for MC, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
  7. With regard to social media posts using official accounts that represent MC and its owned and operated entities, teams, groups and departments. MC will hide or block users who attempt to spam those accounts and will also remove posts that are not consonant with the mission, values, policies or statements within university policies and handbooks, including posts that are inaccurate, representative of violence or inciting violence, in violation of privacy or copyright law, violations of FERPA, HIPPA, or other privacy laws, racially or ethnically offensive, sexually explicit or obscene, deemed lewd, profane or intentionally misleading.

IV. Personal Site Guidelines

  1. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as an MC staff or faculty member, but please make it clear that you are sharing personal views, not representing MC. It is common practice to include a statement, usually in the “About me” section of a blog, Facebook, or Twitter page, that says, “The views expressed on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mississippi College.”
  2. Even with that disclaimer, if you identify yourself as an employee at MC your comments will be associated with the University. Please use discretion when posting content and remember that your content will likely reflect on MC and you can be perceived as a spokesperson of the University.
  3. Be respectful of other people’s opinions.
  4. Never pretend to be someone else when you post anything about MC.
  5. Be mindful of the legal implications of what you post personally. You may be held personally liable, by any offended party, for what you post on your own site and the site of others. MC does not monitor personal websites but will, when made aware, address issues that violate established University policies. You are solely responsible for all material you post on a personal site.
  6. Use of personal social media should not interfere with work commitments.

V. Policies for both Personal and Mississippi College Social Media Sites

  1. Protect institutional confidential and proprietary information

    Do not post confidential or proprietary information about MC, its students, employees, or alumni. Employees must follow applicable federal requirements, including but not limited to:

    • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
    • National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)

    Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action and/or termination.

  2. Adhere to all applicable Mississippi College regulations, policies, and procedures

    Use Social Media in a manner that complies with official University regulations, policies, and procedures, including but not limited to:

    • Academic Freedom (Policy 1.07)
    • Business Affairs Policies
    • Code of Ethics Policy (Policy 5.27)
    • Policy on Sexual Harassment, Fraternization, & Workplace Harassment (Policy 3.11)

    An example of content pertaining to this subject is found in the third paragraph of the Academic Freedom Policy (1.07).

    “Therefore, the freedom of the individual faculty member or student involves a commensurate responsibility toward one's neighbor and toward God. To ignore basic obligations or responsibilities is not true freedom. Although the effectiveness of stated principles or standards depends upon the dedication within the school itself, there must be a genuine concern for freedom of mind and spirit in the individual's search for truth. Thus, in discussing and acting on one's own conscientious convictions as an individual citizen, the faculty member must recognize always that there is the tacit representation of one's institution in what one says and does.”

  3. Adhere to copyright and fair use law

    When posting, be aware of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the University. Questions about fair use or copyrighted material should be directed to Legal Counsel.

  4. Do not use University logos or trademarks without permission

    Any use of MC logos, trademarks or other images must have prior approval. Do not use official logos, trademarks, or any other University images or iconography on personal social media sites. Do not use MC's name to promote a product, cause, or political party or candidate.

    Use of Mississippi College marks, such as logos and graphics, should comply the Mississippi College identity manual, available online at /identity.

    Questions should be directed to the Office of Public Relations.

  5. Do not announce University news

    Do not be the first to announce University or departmental news on a social media site unless preapproved by the Office of Public Relations. The Director of Public Relations is the official spokesperson for MC.

    If someone from the media or press contacts faculty/staff about posts made in online forums that relate to MC in any way, faculty/staff should alert their supervisor and contact the Office of Public Relations before responding.

  6. Respect University time and property

    MC computers and time on the job are reserved for University-related business as approved by supervisors and in accordance with MC’s Acceptable Use Policy.

  7. Be aware of terms of service

    Comply with the Terms of Service of any social media platform used. Note: Posting of University-related content to personal accounts on social media sites may also be subject to this policy.

VI. Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with this policy may result in any or all of the following:

  1. Limitation or revocation of individual rights to use or participate in University-related social media.
  2. Removal of posts or social media accounts.
  3. Corrective or disciplinary actions ranging from a warning to dismissal.