Guidelines to follow when using social media platforms

Confidentiality

  • The principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the University’s policy on data protection must be adhered to at all times. For example, confidential information should never be disclosed, unless appropriate, written consent has been given and the information is shared securely and safely.
  • Care should be exercised with any photographs taken at work and posted in a public domain;
    • be mindful of what the pictures might reveal (eg in the background);
    • ensure that anyone featured in the photograph has given their express consent to the photo being posted online;
    • photographs of children should only feature in professional publications (online and printed media) where written authorisation and consent have been obtained from all parties, and the NSPCC guidelines have been followed.

Online behaviour expectations

  • The University expects all its staff members to treat each other with respect, professionalism, courtesy and consideration in all forms of communication with one another.
  • Be aware that the creation, transmission, or display of material, which is intended or likely to harass another person, constitutes a breach of the University Policy and Procedure on Harassment. This could lead to both disciplinary action by the University and action by external bodies, depending on the severity of the offence.
  • At all times be aware that potential conflicts may arise through the use of social media channels, for example publicly expressing highly controversial opinions online (especially anything that could be interpreted as discriminatory as per the Equality Act 2010, in relation to disability, gender, sexual orientation, race etc).
  • Where personal opinions are publicly expressed online, eg in a blog, it must be clearly stated that these are your own personal views and that they do not reflect those of the University. Where appropriate, use separate accounts for personal and professional purposes for social media interaction.
  • Ensure that any information disclosed online and/or your conduct does not bring the University into disrepute or breach the Data Protection Act 1998.
  • Social media channels are public spaces and you should not publish anything which should not be in the public domain, eg confidential information or inappropriate photographs.
  • Follow the University’s Regulations Relating to the use of Information Technology Facilities.

Where issues arise in respect of the misuse of social media, departments should consult their HR Business Partners in the first instance.

Access to particular social media websites may also be withdrawn in the case of misuse (via the University servers).

Authorisation and approvals

  • Obtain written permission from the University before commencing online public campaigns, or making an announcement on behalf of the University (as with any other form of public communication).
  • Follow the University brand guidelines, for example, be aware of how the University logo or crest should be used online.
  • Photographs that might reveal anything in relation to University’s work, whether intentionally or not, must not be posted in a public domain unless written authorisation to do so has been given by the University (eg through a Principal Investigator, the Head of Department, or the sponsor terms).

Copyright and IPR

  • Ensure that any information disclosed online does not bring the University into disrepute, and that confidentiality and copyrights are not breached. This also applies to any photographs publicly posted.
  • Be aware of Intellectual Property rights of the University and of others.

Security

  • Familiarise yourself with the terms of use, privacy policy and other policies of the social media sites and networks that you use.
  • Ensure you have protected yourself and your colleagues by setting the appropriate levels of security in your personal and professional accounts on social media sites and networks. Follow the IT Services guidance on applying security settings to social media accounts.