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Social Media Policy

Introduction

Social networking websites and online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are increasingly being used by students, faculty and staff to communicate with one another and by colleges and universities to build communities and share information with students, parents, alumni and other vested constituents.  

As part of The Boston Conservatory’s commitment to building a community free of all forms of harassment, bullying, exploitation or intimidation, members of the Conservatory community are expected to act with honesty, integrity and respect for the rights, privileges, privacy and property of others when using online social media.  Community members must abide by applicable laws, including copyright law, and Conservatory policies as articulated in the following guidelines and other relevant policies found in the Faculty Handbook, Staff Handbook and Student Handbook. 

General Social Media Guidelines

In an effort to assist and provide direction when using social media, The Boston Conservatory has developed the following general guidelines for engaging in social media forums.  These guidelines and reminders are intended to help all members of our community—experts and novices alike—to use social media vehicles productively and safely:

Be honest about your identity.

  • In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a Boston Conservatory student, faculty or staff member, but please be clear that you are sharing your personal views, not representing the Conservatory.  Individuals or groups within the Conservatory community are not permitted to present personal opinions in ways that imply endorsement by the Conservatory.  
  • If posted material may reasonably be construed to imply support, endorsement or opposition of the Conservatory with regard to any personal statements, including opinions or views on any issue, the material shall be accompanied by a disclaimer: an explicit statement that the individual is speaking for himself or herself and not as a representative of the Conservatory or any of its offices or divisions. 
  • Do not pretend to be someone else and post about The Boston Conservatory. 

Be an independent voice.

  • If you identify your affiliation with The Boston Conservatory in your comments, readers will associate you with the Conservatory, 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.
  • Do not use The Boston Conservatory logo or promote or make product, cause or political endorsements on behalf of the Conservatory.  Do not use The Boston Conservatory logo or any other Boston Conservatory marks or images on your personal online sites.  
  • The Conservatory’s name, telephone numbers, email addresses and Conservatory images are not to be posted on social network profiles of faculty and staff for personal purposes.  However, a faculty or staff member, SGA officer or registered campus organization may use their Conservatory title for identification purposes.  If the use of the title might imply endorsement, support or opposition of the Conservatory with regard to personal statements, including opinions or views on any issue, an explicit disclaimer must appear proximate to the material.

Be aware of liability issues.

  • Beware that intellectual property may be protected by copyright. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate.  Pay attention to updates. 
  • Remember that you are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others.  Social media users 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 applicants before extending offers.  Be sure that what you post today will not cause you to regret it.
  • Understand that what you say may be perceived as bullying, harassment or intimidation and may have unintended as well as legal consequences.

Protect yourself.

  • Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise would not behave.  Your reputation is best served when you make ethical and career-conscious choices about how you use social media.
  • Though you should represent yourself honestly, do not provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you.  Do not list your home address or telephone number or your work telephone number or email address.  It is a good idea to create a separate email address that is used only with your social media site.

Be responsible.

  • 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—they build credibility and community.  However, you should adjust your site’s settings to allow you to review and approve comments before they appear.  This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments, delete spam and block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.

Institutional Social Media Guidelines

These are additional guidelines for faculty, staff and any students approved to contribute to the Conservatory’s institutional social media channels: 

Be an ambassador.

  • If you have been authorized by your manager, division director or academic dean to create an official Boston Conservatory social media site or a video for posting on YouTube or elsewhere online, you must contact the Office of Marketing and Communications, prior to creating your site or posting a video, for approval.  Once approved, the Office of Marketing and communications can provide an approved logo and other images to ensure coordination with other Boston Conservatory sites and content.  
  • If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the Conservatory, clearly state your role and goals.  Discuss with your manager, division director or academic dean when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.
  • 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.
  • Before you address a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications.  If you have any questions about whether it is appropriate to join a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a Boston Conservatory employee, ask your manager, division director, or academic dean before you post, or contact the Office of Marketing and Communications.
  • Always double-check your facts, grammar and spelling.  Attention to detail matters.  If you are not the best editor, have someone else read your postings before publishing them.
  • Individual departments and groups seeking to advertise on social networks must contact The Boston Conservatory Office of Marketing and Communications.  Such advertising must be approved and facilitated through the Marketing and Communications office.

Be considerate.

  • Faculty and staff should be consistent when accepting or not accepting friend requests from students to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
  • It is recommended that faculty and staff with profiles accessible by students use care with privacy settings to keep personal content private.  Faculty and staff are encouraged to limit content that students can see to information relevant to educational purposes.  Faculty and staff should never misrepresent themselves by using a false name or persona on social networks unless that characterization is connected explicitly with their real identity.
  • Social networks should never be utilized as the sole, mandatory communication method for interaction between faculty and students.  Official course activities should be kept in official online tools, not on social networks.  Faculty should never require students to participate in social networks or have participation influence a course grade (with an exception being made for class projects that may use social networks for research purposes).

Be responsible.

  • All communication on social networking site (e.g., wall posts, status updates) should be kept in accordance with standard ethical practices of the institution and educational relationship.  Official course communication (e.g., feedback on an assignment) should never be posted in a public area of a social network.  Private educational or health records should never be communicated through a social network.  Common sense should be used regarding profiles, posts, photos and other information accessible through social networks.
  • During normal work hours, personal use of Conservatory electronic resources to access social networking sites is to be limited to incidental or professional use.  Incidental use must not interfere with an individual’s performance of his/her assigned job or coursework responsibilities or someone else’s job or academic performance or compromise the functionality of the office or campus network.

Monitoring

Any information posted on a social media site immediately becomes public information.  The Boston Conservatory monitors activities as necessary to ensure the integrity, functionality and security of the Conservatory’s electronic resources.  Similarly, other employers, organizations and individuals monitor and share information they find on social networking sites.  Keep in mind that anything you post is public and permanent.

Violation of Campus Policy

The overarching policy of The Boston Conservatory is to exercise freedom of speech with responsibility.  If an activity on a social networking site is reported as violating campus policy, it will be investigated and handled according to the Conservatory disciplinary procedures for faculty, staff, or students as delineated in the Faculty Handbook, Staff Handbook and Student Handbook.

In response to concerns or complaints or information provided by individuals, Conservatory administrators may look up profiles on social networking sites and may use the information in informal or formal proceedings.  Moreover, the Conservatory has no control over how other employers, organizations, or individuals may use information they find on social networking websites.

Related Resources

  • The Boston Conservatory Staff Handbook, Faculty Handbook and Student Handbook
  • Policy on Harassment and Procedures for Responding to Reports of Harassment
  • The Boston Conservatory Electronic Communications Policy

In writing this policy, The Boston Conservatory has drawn extensively from policies at other colleges and universities, including Cornell College, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of California—Santa Barbara and Delaware Tech.   

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