Student social media guidelines
At City, University of London, we recognise the many benefits and opportunities that social media presents.
We actively use social media to engage with students, staff, alumni and the general public, to celebrate success, communicate research and enhance the University’s profile online. We also actively encourage our students to make effective and appropriate use of social media channels and to use them to engage in conversations with the community.
Despite the opportunities presented by social media, there are risks. Social media allows individuals to communicate with a potentially large audience, and sometimes its informality can encourage us to be less cautious than we would be using other more traditional methods of communication and interaction.
Inappropriate use of social media can be damaging to the reputation of the University as well as have a negative impact on students, staff and the wider community, so we have put together these guidelines to help you avoid this.
This set of guidelines applies to students’ use of social media and does not apply to staff use of social media. Staff are directed to the University’s Social Media Policy and which is designed for staff who use, or wish to use, social media within their role at the University.
Aims and objectives of these guidelines
The aim of these guidelines is to help:
- Protect and support our students contributing to, and engaging with, social media.
- Encourage good practice while protecting freedom of speech, expression and association.
- Protect the reputation of the University, its students, staff, partner organisations and clients.
What is social media?
Social media is any interactive online media that allows instant communication and the sharing of information in a public forum. This may include, but is not limited to; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Blogs, Forums, Flickr, WhatsApp, Reddit, TikTiok, Snapchat, Weibo, WeChat and YouTube.
Your personal online/social media presence
City, University of London encourages freedom of speech and understands the role that universities play in society, as places for debate, discussion and consideration of ideas – this includes allowing discussion of ideas that are controversial in society. However, in order to protect our students, we must consider how freedom of speech is best promoted on campus, within the constraints of the law.
When you are using your social media account, please consider the following
- Posting anything online, even in private spaces, has the potential to become public, even without your knowledge or consent. You are personally responsible for what you publish, and once online, it's very difficult to delete or control how widely material is shared, so make sure you’re comfortable with your post being public and shared before you send it.
- Ensure that you protect your personal information and that of others, when these are available to you, that could be misused (e.g. home address, telephone number, date of birth).
- Think about who you want to be able to see your information and set privacy settings accordingly. Remember that even with strict privacy settings, others can share your posts (for example, through screengrabs), so you may have no control over who sees them.
- Don’t say or write anything that could have an intended malicious impact towards a person or brand. As a member of the City community we seek to act with respect and consideration for others. We aim to ensure freedom of speech and expression with responsibility and uphold the principle of equality in our dealings with each other and externally.
- We aim to engage with the local community in a positive manner and endeavour to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, both online and offline. This is outlined within the Student Charter.
We recognise that many of you will use social media in a personal capacity. While you are not acting on behalf of the University, please be aware that as a member of the City community, you can have an impact on our community as well as the University’s reputation. In the event that you are identified as being a City, University of London student, and complaints are made to us about your alleged improper use of social media, we would need to investigate.
When you are using your social media accounts, please ensure you do not
- Do anything that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual e.g. making offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender reassignment, race (including nationality), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or age; using social media to bully another individual or; posting images that are discriminatory/offensive or links to such content;
- Breach copyright e.g. using someone else’s work, such as images or content without permission; failing to give acknowledgement where permission has been given to reproduce something;
- Breach confidentiality e.g. revealing confidential information owned by the University or a third-party; giving away confidential information about an individual or organisation.
- Use the City logo or branding within your social media profile images - City, University of London students are not permitted to use the University’s logo or branding as their social media profile pictures as this could insinuate that they are representing the University on social media. Students may also be prone to complaints or enquiries from members of the public if using the official branding, so we advise the logo is only used on the official channels.
If you see something on a social media site that concerns you, you can report it to the social media provider. The provider is likely to pass the complaint to the person who set up the space or group. If it concerns the University, or a member of the University community, please report it via the extenuating circumstances, complaints and appeals page.
Our Students’ Union are also able to offer support and guidance.
Your responsibilities as a student using official University social media accounts
The following applies to students who are using a society/ sports/ departmental social media account or running a student takeover on one of the University’s official social media channels:
- If you would like to create a new social media account for a society, please consult with the Students’ Union; if you wish to create a departmental one, please consult with your School/ department; if you wish to create one for a sports club/team, please consult with the Sports department.
- Remember that you are representing the University when posting comments or responding to those made by others via an official City account.
- We understand that social media may be used as a place to raise concerns, opinions or frustrations - however, when using an official City account you are representing the University so please ensure you contact the relevant department or the Students’ Union if you are unhappy about something. Before reacting in the heat of the moment, always take time to think about what you are posting on social media and remember that a ‘digital footprint’ is permanent. Seek advice if you are unsure.
- Do not post anything on an official university social media account that is discriminatory against, malicious or bullying or harassment of any kind.
- Ensure that you do not reveal confidential information about the University or its students, staff, partner organisations or clients.
- Comply with relevant codes of conduct when using social media as part of a research study or project.
- Ensure you check the copyright of images and other content you post, before you post it.
- Consult the City Press Office if there is any media interest resulting from your online activity.
Responsibilities of the University
The University will:
- Ensure these guidelines are accessible to students and staff.
- Take steps to give students the information to stay safe on the internet when using social media.
- Monitor references to the University on social media.
- Investigate complaints regarding students’ behaviour on social media in line with the University’s Student Disciplinary Policy. (Please note that social media is not recognised as an official channel via which to make a formal complaint).
- Take disciplinary action where inappropriate behaviour is exhibited that affects the University in accordance with the University’s Student Disciplinary Policy.
- Periodically review and update the guidelines and any other associated policy and guidelines. Students and staff will be notified of any significant changes.
The University is not responsible for, and does not hold any ownership of, any content posted on social media by its students.
Misuse of Social Media
If you post views, opinions or images relating to fellow students or others you may invoke the University’s commitments as detailed within the Student Charter.
The University does not condone any malicious or discriminatory remarks, online or offline, and if any complaints were made about one of our community posting these remarks, we would investigate, starting with an informal conversation which may lead to a disciplinary procedure if needed, as well as asking you to remove the post.
You are also advised to remember that prospective employers may trawl social media sites as part of their selection process and the social media posts that you make could undermine your future employment prospects, so ensure you carefully consider the posts you create and share.
Links to other City, University of London student policies
Further guidance/ contacts
City’s Press Office can provide guidance for any media interest: email@example.com
City’s Social Media Team can be contacted if you have experienced an incident on social media and need advice; can provide social media guidance; or answer any questions you have about these guidelines: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
City’s Students’ Union: firstname.lastname@example.org