Social Media Guidelines

Introduction

The University of Oxford recognises the advantages and the importance of using social media within both professional and personal spheres. However, with constant developments and changes in the way online interactions occur, it is important to be aware of the potential issues and risks that can arise from its misuse.

These guidelines outline the standards the University expects its staff members (including visitors and contractors) to observe when using social media or engaging in any form of online interaction, whilst directly or indirectly associated with the University.

Scope

These guidelines apply to all members of the University of Oxford staff (inlcuding volunteers, interns and casual workers), visitors and contractors, and are intended to protect the University’s reputation and its members’ privacy and confidentiality, and to avoid legal issues arising.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the information on how to use social media provided by IT Services, local rules and guidelines set out by your department, and all other relevant guidelines and policies which are listed within this guidance.

What is Social Media?

Social media is a broad term that is used to describe a variety of online tools, such as websites, web-based platforms and applications that are designed for online interaction. Most often it is defined as online social interaction between individuals, in which they can create, exchange, as well as share content and ideas, or participate in social networking via the use of virtual communities and networks. Any website, online application or platform that enables its users to interact with it and its visitors falls into the definition of social media.

Some of the examples of social media channels include Academia.edu, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and online blogs.

Professional use of social media

Social media allows members of the University staff to communicate and network with internal and external audiences and the University recognises that some staff use various social media platforms as part of their normal work duties.

While participating in any of the University's social media activities, members of the University staff should be mindful that they are representing the University and should follow the guidelines set out here.

Personal use of social media

The principles outlined under the professional use of social media, above, also apply to personal use.

The University allows the occasional use of social media channels during the working day (so long as it does not involve inappropriate content), but this must not interfere with office commitments and job duties, and so should generally be avoided during working hours.

It is important to note that when posting in a personal capacity you may still be identified as a staff member of the University even if this is not stated on your account, and so you should be mindful of your audience and what is being posted in a public domain.

Use of social media at work must also not breach any of the local policies of the employing department and/or division. Staff members should be advised and briefed on any such policies or guidelines by their department and/or division.

Staff members who use social media for professional purposes should do so via a separate, online account/profile, which is intended specifically for such use.