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General Description
Policy Provisions
Performance Evaluation
Subject Experts
Social Media Policy for Faculty, Staff, and Students

Document Number: SOCIALMEDIA--101 Revision #:
Document Owner: Executive VP Date Last Updated: 08/19/2013
Primary Author: Executive VP Status: Approved
Date Originally Created: 07/25/2013

General Description

Information about the Cumberland University Social Media Policy and best practices suggestions.


Delineation of the expectations of social media behavior.


All faculty, staff, students, and administrators

Responsibility: Administration

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Relevant Knowledge: In order to comply with this policy you should know:
Current University policy
Standards of good practice

Terms and Definitions: Additional training

Corrective Action

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Policy Provisions


Social media are powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Because they blur the lines between personal voice and institutional voice, Cumberland University has developed the following policy to help clarify how best to enhance and protect personal and professional reputations

when participating in social media.


Social media are defined as media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Examples include but are not limited to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace.


Both in professional and institutional roles, employees should follow the same behavioral standards online as they would in real life. The same laws, professional expectations, and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media, and other university constituents apply online as in the real world. Employees are liable for anything they post to social media sites.


General Social Media Policy

Cumberland University welcomes participation through our social media channels and encourages you to interact with us often. We hope to provide a forum for dialogue among the many diverse voices of our university and we encourage comments about the content you find here. Posts containing personal attacks, profanity, nudity, hate speech or illegal material are prohibited. We reserve the right, at our discretion, to remove any post or to revoke a user's privilege to post to our page. Please be aware that we cannot immediately review every comment posted on the page. Opinions expressed in non-Cumberland University posts are not necessarily those of the university and its employees, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these posts. Posts are to be used only for noncommercial purposes. You may not solicit funds or promote commercial entities. All content posted by Cumberland University is the property of Cumberland University and is subject to copyright laws.


Policies for All Social Media Sites, Including Personal Sites

1. Protect confidential and proprietary information: Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Cumberland University, students, employees, or alumni. Employees must still follow the applicable federal requirements such as FERPA and HIPA, as well as NAIA regulations. Adhere to all applicable university privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination.

2. Respect copyright and fair use: When posting, be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the university.

3. Do not use Cumberland University logos for endorsements: Do not use the Cumberland University logo or any other university images or iconography on personal social media sites. Do not use Cumberland University’s name to promote a product, cause, or political party or candidate.

4. Respect university time and property: University computers and time on the job are reserved for university-related business as approved by supervisors and in accordance with the Information Technology Users’ Privileges and Responsibilities policies and procedures.

5. Terms of service: Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.


Best Practices Suggestions

This section applies to those posting on behalf of an official university unit, though the guidelines may be helpful for anyone posting on social media in any capacity.

1. Think twice before posting: Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. Consider what could happen if a post becomes widely known and how that may reflect both on the poster and the university. Search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. If you wouldn’t say it at a conference or to a member of the media, consider whether you should post it online. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input.

2. Strive for accuracy: Get the facts straight before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. This is especially important if posting on behalf of the university in any capacity.

3. Be respectful: Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the poster and/or the university and its institutional voice.

4. Remember your audience: Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.

5. On personal sites, identify your views as your own. If you identify yourself as a Cumberland University faculty or staff member or student online, it should be clear that the views expressed are not necessarily those of the institution.

6. Photography: Photographs posted on social media sites easily can be appropriated by visitors. Consider adding a watermark and/or posting images at 72 dpi and approximately 800x600 resolution to protect your intellectual property. Images at that size are sufficient for viewing on the Web, but not suitable for printing.  


Examples of Inappropriate or Offensive Behaviors

Examples of inappropriate and offensive behaviors concerning participation in online communities may include presentations or depictions of the following:

1. Using inappropriate or offensive language in comments, videos and other postings. This includes threats of violence and derogatory comments against race and/or gender.

2. Posting photos, videos or comments showing the personal use of alcohol or tobacco, i.e. , holding cups, cans, shot glasses, etc. This applies even to students who are of legal age to use these products.

3. Posting pictures, videos or comments that condone drug-related activity.  This includes but is not limited to images that portray the personal use of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia.

4. Posting photos, videos, and comments that are of a sexual nature.  This includes links to websites of a pornographic nature and other inappropriate material.



Institutional Social Media

If you post on behalf of an official university unit, the following policies must be adhered to in addition to all policies and best practices listed above:

1. Notify the university: Departments or university units that have a social media page or would like to start one should contact their communications managers. Units that are unsure who to contact or that do not have a communications manager should contact the Executive Director of Communications to ensure all institutional social media sites coordinate with other Cumberland University sites and their content. All institutional pages must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content. Ideally, this should be the unit head of the department.

2. Acknowledge who you are: If you are representing Cumberland University when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge this.

3. Have a plan: Departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date.

4. Link back to the university: Whenever possible, link back to the Cumberland University Web site. Ideally, posts should be very brief, redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the Cumberland University Web environment. When linking to a news article about Cumberland University, check first to see whether you can link to a release on the Cumberland University Webstie instead of to a publication or other media outlet.

5. Protect the institutional voice: Posts on social media sites should protect the university’s institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual Cumberland University unit should construe its social media site as representing the university as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post—names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department or unit rather than to the institution as a whole.

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Performance Evaluation
Performance Metrics: Compliance with standard policy and procedure

Consequences: Further training
Loss of priveleges

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Subject Experts
The following may be consulted for additional information.
Director of Human Resources

Executive VP

Legal Counsel


VP for Academic Affairs

VP for Academic Affairs

VP for Advancement

VP for Business and Finance

VP for Online and Professional Studies

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