Legal Information

Social Media Policy

Introduction

Berea College welcomes the responsible use of social media technologies to support engaged and transformative learning and to reach out effectively to our broader community.  Our rich and diverse use of social media also allows us to share, in a public way, the many qualities and strengths of our academic institution.  From that perspective, Berea intentionally uses social media to advance the institution and build relationships with important constituencies like prospective and current students, donors and alumni.  The venues to accomplish this are numerous and include social networking sites (like Facebook, Twitter, and Ning), content sharing (through YouTube, iTunesU, BlogTalkRadio, Ustream, Flickr, and podcasts), and through the College’s web presence (including www.berea.edu myBerea portal and BCnow).  Through these venues we can communicate important information and engage others in areas of mutual interest.

The College also recognizes the open nature of social media which is often used for both personal and professional purposes.  Social media can also create a sense of role ambiguity.  It may not always be clear when one is speaking on behalf of the College, sharing facts, or sharing personal/professional opinions.  This policy is designed to help our employees navigate through this ambiguity and clarify certain responsibilities when posting material online.  It is important to remember that we are subject to the same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines when interacting online as we would in-person with students, parents, alumni, donors, and the media.

Section 1: Laws, Regulations, and Policies that Govern What You Can Post Online

This section outlines governing regulations that apply to all users of Berea College social media when posting material online.  In some cases, violations could lead to disciplinary action or termination.

  1. Protect confidential and proprietary information:
    Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Berea College students, employees, or alumni.  All persons must follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPAA, as well as NAIA regulations. Adhere to all applicable institutional and legal privacy, confidentiality and property policies and laws.
  2. Respect copyright and fair use:
    When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the College.  For guidance, consult the Berea College Intellectual Property Rights Policy.
  3. Use Berea College intellectual properties only with permission:
    No user may establish social networking sites that use the Berea College logo or other intellectual properties such as photography, video, artwork, and publications copyrighted to the College without authorization from the College.   It is a violation of social networking site policies to represent an institution without authorization.
  4. Disseminating official information:
    Public Relations and other designated offices are responsible for posting and publishing online official information on behalf of the College.  The Employee Handbook includes a related policy for all employees, including students under the section titled “Release of Information to the Public Media”.

Section 2: Guidelines for Institutionally-Sponsored and -Moderated Social Media Sites

These guidelines apply to institutional accounts that are set up, maintained and moderated by Public Relations or Admissions on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Ning.  These guidelines also apply to department-moderated social media sites.

  1. Institution-moderated social networking sites:
    Berea College has institution-moderated social network sites managed by Public Relations and Admissions staff.  These sites can be used by the campus community to disseminate information to various audiences including prospective students, donors, alumni, and visitors of the College.  Individual departments may choose to establish a department-moderated site when these institution-moderated sites are not applicable for their needs.  Departments are required to contact the Web Team at webteam@berea.edu to register these sites. 

    As part of the social media framework, Berea maintains an official presence on YouTube, BlogTalkRadio, Ustream, Vimeo, Flickr, and other similar sites for content sharing.  These sites offer content to inform audiences about the mission and activities at the College and are often linked and accessed through our social media sites as well.  Berea maintains an institutional presence on these sites with content produced or endorsed by the College.  These sites are maintained by the Public Relations office to reach alumni and friends as well as by the Admissions Office to reach prospective students.  They serve as a clearinghouse for content produced and/or endorsed by that College for these audiences.  Other departments and offices may contribute content to these official sites when approved by Public Relations or Admissions.

  2. If you operate a department-moderated social networking site:
    Departments shall consider their particular audience, message and goals and have a strategy for keeping information on their social media site up-to-date.  The intention and purpose of the department-moderated sites should be specific in order to protect the College’s institutional voice.  Efforts shall be made to cross link to institution-moderated sites managed by Public Relations or Admissions and/or to College content on www.berea.edu when relevant.  Use of images, naming conventions, pictures/graphics and posted content must directly relate to the particular department or activity to avoid confusion with institution-moderated sites.

    The web team may also encourage the department to use the College presence to offer an integrated user experience and to take advantage of certain additional features available.  For example, content from departments and programs could be published within a playlist on one of the College’s institutional sites operated by Public Relations or Admissions.  In addition, the College sites may offer additional benefits to the department in terms of content exposure and the size of videos that could be uploaded and the length of time these videos will remain on the site.  “Alternate” accounts that appear to represent our official presence on these sites are not permitted.

  3. Administrative access to Berea-sponsored social media sites:
    A member of the Web Team (typically a PR representative by default) shall be included as an administrator on any social networking site that is moderated and maintained as an official presence of the college.  There are several important reasons for this.  We are assured that these networks are managed when staff members leave.  This practice also allows us to communicate efficiently during an emergency and it allows us to track usage and quickly remove content that violates this policy.  Site administrators are still responsible for their social media networks and the PR administrator typically serves as a backup.
  4. Instructional use of social media sites:
    Faculty do not need to use our official presence on various social media sites and can use these tools freely to support teaching and learning activities.  Departments and programs that want to establish “official” presences on these sites shall register with the web team at webteam@berea.edu .

Official Clubs and Organizations:may create an official web presence in consultation with the group’s advisor using social media or other web technologies as applicable.  Students should consider their particular audience, message and group goals and have a strategy for keeping information on their social media sites up-to-date.  These social media sites shall also be registered through webteam@berea.edu so that we can promote them in other media.  Use of images, naming conventions, pictures/graphics and posted content must tie back clearly to the particular group or activity to avoid confusion with institution-moderated sites.

Section 3: Posting Online and When Using College-Moderated Sites

This section provides guidelines for all users of Berea College social media when posting material online.

  1. Understand how your role may impact how others interpret what you say:
    If you choose to list your work affiliation on a social network or identify your association with the College then you should regard all communication on that network as you would in a professional network.  What you publish online should never be attributed to the College and shall not appear to be endorsed by or originating from the College, unless you are authorized to officially act in this capacity on behalf of the College.  See also the Academic Freedom and Responsibility policy in the faculty manual.  All social media sites must include the disclaimer “this site is not an official publication of Berea College”.
  2. When using College e-mail:
    You are accountable for all activity conducted with your College e-mail address or when identifying yourself as a member of the College community.  The “@berea.edu” address attached to your name may indicate to others that you are acting on the College’s behalf so be clear when that is not the case.
  3. Know the terms of service of your social media platform:
    Be sure to understand and follow the terms of service of any social media platform you use. You are personally responsible for compliance.
  4. Be accurate and transparent: 
    Have the facts before you post.  If you post inaccurate information then correct it quickly.  Social networks are successful when they offer authentic and direct communications via user-generated content. Social networks are interactive with a two-way flow of information.  If you are representing Berea College when posting, acknowledge this by including your name and job title or department as a signature to your post.”
  5. Respect others’ privacy: 
    Take care not to post private information concerning others such as an e-mail from a colleague or contact information.  Please exercise good “netiquette.”  Social networks are in the public realm and are not appropriate venues for the discussion or dissemination of private matters.

Additional care must be taken when participating in Berea sponsored and moderated social media sites.  The below “best practices” (i.e. items 6 through 8) particularly apply to our moderated sites that are set up to reach specific audiences to carry out mission critical functions from fund raising to admissions.

  1. Consider the intended audience when posting:
    College moderated sites are frequented by prospective students, alumni, friends, and other interested parties.  The College encourages thoughtful social media interaction and does not seek to censor contributions to these sites.  However, profanity, racist, sexist, or derogatory remarks, content that incites hate or encourages unethical or illegal activities, comments on litigation involving the College, spam and off-topic remarks may be removed and the user could be banned from further participation on the site.
  2. Be relevant and respectful:
    Be thoughtful, accurate, relevant and respectful on Berea moderated sites.  Our Berea-moderated social networks are successful when members contribute thoughtful and relevant content.  Have a comment?  Post it.  Have a suggestion?  Tell us about it.  Have a different opinion?  State it, respectfully.  Want to locate alumni in your area?  Do it.  Want to offer a unique perspective?  Share it.  Want to air a grievance?  Take care to ensure that your statements are relevant and do not violate confidentiality and others’ privacy.  Social networks are often not the best forums for raising grievances that might be better addressed in other venues or handled privately.
  3. Link to other College material:
    Ideally, posts on College moderated sites should be brief; redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the Berea College site when applicable.

Section 4: Process for Resolving Concerns and Conflicts

Social media technology is evolving and no policy or procedure can address all of the particular situations and circumstances that may arise.  Users can contact the web team at webteam@berea.edu for guidance.

Effective Date: 8-19-2010

Approved by: Administrative Committee

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