UMass Boston Social Media Policy

UMass Boston has an active and engaged faculty, staff, and student body, and increasingly we are turning to interactive ways to connect and share information online. The university encourages its faculty, staff, and students to use tools such as social media to advance their work and heighten their experience at UMass Boston. In an effort to assist and provide direction when using social media, UMass Boston’s Office of Communications has developed the following general guidelines.

If you post on behalf of UMass Boston

Be connected. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create an official UMass Boston social media site or a video for posting in locations such as YouTube, please contact the Office of Communications for an approved logo and other images and to ensure coordination with other UMass Boston sites and content.

Be respectful. As a UMass Boston employee or representative, you should be mindful of the university’s public mission as a forum for thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation, and UMass Boston’s, are best served when you remain above the fray.

Be responsive. If a question or comment is directed toward you via your social media site or page, you should do your best to reply in a timely and appropriate fashion.

Be transparent. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the university, clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.

Be thoughtful. Before you jump into a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications. Will your response stimulate positive discussion, provide new information or insight, or inflame? If you have any questions about whether it’s appropriate to enter into a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a UMass Boston employee, ask your supervisor before you post or contact the Office of Communications.

Know the rules. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate. Pay attention to updates. If the legal language is hard to follow, follow a respected blogger or two who discuss service changes in their posts.

Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the university’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political or personal comments. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues.

Be accurate and professional. Nothing erodes credibility more quickly than factual inaccuracies and poor grammar, spelling, and attention to detail. Always double check your facts, and if you're not the best editor, have someone else read your postings before going live.

Be focused and topical. Ensure all the content in your social media channels serves to advance the mission of the university. All topics should be directly relevant to your audience. You can link to content produced by others, but do not post unrelated material simply to drive traffic or because it seems interesting. Make sure all your posts have a purpose. Do not post general information items, like weather forecasts or statewide news, unless there is a specific tie to UMass Boston.

Know who you are interacting with. Thousands of people follow UMass Boston on Twitter and like us on Facebook; not all of them follow our standards of online decorum. Use caution when sharing or retweeting content from people whose behaviors does not embody the values of the university. If the person’s name is vulgar, or if their posts are explicit, rude, or profane, do not share their material or otherwise acknowledge them. Doing so will be interpreted by our audience as an endorsement by UMass Boston – even if we include a disclaimer.

Streamline your social-media presence. Use your discretion when deciding which social-media platforms to use and how much time to devote to updating them. It’s better to have a robust, lively presence in one medium (say, Twitter) than to have mediocre, inconsistent content on several sites. Do not create multiple accounts for your department or organization on the same site – this will confuse your audience. On Facebook, opt for a “like” page, which is typically used by an organization, rather than a “friend” page, which is intended for an individual. 

Personal site guidelines

Be authentic. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a UMass Boston faculty or staff member, but please be clear that you are sharing your personal views, not representing UMass Boston. This parallels media relations practices at UMass Boston.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of UMass Boston.”

Don’t be a mole. Never pretend to be someone else and post about UMass Boston. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations.

Take the high ground. If you identify your affiliation with UMass Boston in your comments, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly.

Be aware of liability. You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Don’t use the UMass Boston logo or make endorsements. Do not use the UMass Boston logo, athletic logo, or any other UMass Boston marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use UMass Boston’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause, or political party or candidate.

Protect your identity. While you want to be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you. Don’t list your home address or telephone number or your work telephone or email address. It is a good idea to create a separate email address that is used only with your social media site.

Follow a code of ethics. There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics or adapt an existing code already on the Web. Monitor comments. Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments—it builds credibility and community. However, you can set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.

Link back. You are welcome to link back from your site to