Social Media Policy

Overall Purpose

These supporting guidelines are intended to properly portray, promote and protect the institution and its employees, and to assist University entities in effectively creating and managing social media accounts.

Definitions

  • “University of Cincinnati” includes University of Cincinnati Uptown Campus, UC Blue Ash Campus , UC Clermont Campus, all colleges, all units, all programs, UC Athletics, UC Foundation, Hoxworth Blood Center, all centers, and any other entity managed by or affiliated with the institution.
  • As used in this policy only, “Personnel” includes Cincinnati staff, faculty, coaches, students and volunteers.
  • “Social media” includes, but is not limited to, all means of communicating or posting information or content of any sort on the Internet, including blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Wikipedia or other wikis, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, message boards, chat rooms, logs and journals whether or not associated or affiliated with the institution, as well as any other form of electronic communication.
  • “University of Cincinnati Social Media Presence” means any use of social media that purports to represent or speak on behalf of the insitution. This can include anything from establishing a web page to a one-time posting that purports to represent or speak on behalf of the institution.

University Policies & Protected Information Policies Related or Connected to Social Media

When engaging in any social media activity as part of official duties at the University of Cincinnati, employees are governed by the same policies that govern all other electronic communications. Employees must not violate university computing, privacy, IT, FERPA, NCAA, intellectual property, banding, freedom of speech or other state, local or federal policies and laws.

This section applies to disclosure of protected information while engaging in social media activity (1) during employment at or while conducting activities for Cincinnati, or (2) as part of the employee’s official duties. Such employees/individuals must follow all applicable state, federal, and local laws, such as FERPA, NCAA, and HIPAA, and policies found in university faculty and staff handbooks and the brand identification and standards manual. Any content that violates any of these, or contains/leads to a student’s private or
personal information, is strictly prohibited and should not be posted by employees or others using the site. Violations must be reported immediately to University Communications.

  • FERPA - Protect confidential information covered by privacy laws, especially FERPA: "The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education."
    • Those who conduct social media activities for Cincinnati must not engage in any conversations or post any information regarding student records. Some examples of student records include names, admission status, GPA, Social Security numbers, and any other information that would be covered by FERPA.
    • If students request help, employees can direct them to a secure discussion platform, such as phone, email, or a link for more information.
  • HIPAA - Protect confidential medical records as specified by HIPAA: “The privacy rule protects all 'individually identifiable health information' held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral.” 
    • Examples of protected information include: “…the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health condition, the provision of health care to the individual, or, the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe can be used to identify the individual.”
  • NCAA – Cincinnati employees and individuals are required to abide by NCAA regulations when interacting and communicating on social media platforms. Please contact the University of Cincinnati Office of Intercollegiate Athletics for any clarification or questions in connection with this policy.
  • Personal Business Transactions – The institution does not endorse or use any social network Internet communication service or media sharing service as a secure means of communication for online business transactions or matters involving personal information. The university will not ask for, nor may an individual send, credit card or payment information, classified information, privileged information, private information or information subject to non-disclosure agreements via any social network Internet communication service.
  • Copyright and Fair Use - Respect copyright law.
    • Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
    • Fair use allows portions of certain works to be used without consent under specific situations; however, the safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.
    • User-generated content can be obtained when the owner of a photo or video shares it with a University of Cincinnati social media account via message, mentions the account’s handle, uses a hashtag promoted by the account or mentions the department, group, unit or initiative represented by the account. Social media users who engage in such actions allow the University to use their content on its various social channels. Effort will be made to credit the original source when posting user-generated content.

Procedure

The University Communications Department will authorize and oversee all University of Cincinnati Social Media Presences. Prior to establishing or substantially changing any University of Cincinnati Social Media Presence of any kind, personnel must secure written approval from University Communications via the Director of Digital Communications.
 

Responsibility

  • Personnel
    • Personnel are not permitted to present themselves in social media as a representative of, or spokesperson for, University of Cincinnati without the express written authorization of the University Communications Department. Any authorization granted for representing University of Cincinnati on any social media site will be limited in scope, timeframe, and message content.
    • Personnel may not create any University of Cincinnati Social Media Presence without prior written approval from the University Communications Department. All proposals to create a University of Cincinnati Social Media Presence must be submitted in writing for evaluation and approval by University Communications. 
    • If you or another associate have already created any form of University of Cincinnati Social Media Presence, contact the University Communications Department immediately for evaluation.
    • Suspected violations of this policy, including any possible violation of HIPAA, may be reported to the University Communications Department. 
    • The University Communications Department is the primary contact for all University of Cincinnati comment or policy-related issues and may forward certain requests and communications to the Human Resources department for review and approval.
  • University of Cincinnati
    • University Communications will represent the University of Cincinnati in all social media realms.
    • University Communications monitors online activity for compliance with the laws pertaining to copyright, trademarks, and other intellectual property laws, including the institution's own copyrights, brands, and trademarks.
    • The University of Cincinnati reserves the right to delete user comments that promote commercial ventures or that do not comply with other University or social media platform policies. Posts that are off-topic, abusive, contain profanity, are threatening in tone or devolve into personal attacks may be deleted.
    • Account administrators reserve the right to review all comments and posted materials and remove such materials for any reason.

Branding

Use only approved brand assets (logo, graphics and color), following university brand guidelines.

Whenever possible, University of Cincinnati should be listed prior to the department or unit. University Communications can provide further guidance as necessary.

Enforcement

Employees who violate this social media policy could face disciplinary action. Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, this could include termination of employment.

University Communications reserves the right to monitor how social networks are used and accessed through institutional Internet resources. These include, but are not limited to, computers and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones that are provided for business use.

Moreover, the institution maintains official records that contain certain data related to social media activity. These include, but are not limited to, messages sent and received through the institution’s computer systems.

When appropriate, University Communications may involve law enforcement officials and agencies. In doing so, the institution may be compelled to share stored data.

Resources/Links

Internal

External