We believe it is important for all University of Texas at Austin units, faculty, staff and students to be aware of social media and how social technologies can help you create and nurture relationships, share information, advance knowledge, raise awareness, build support, participate in important conversations and collaborate on new ideas.
The University of Texas at Austin offers the following guiding principles for all faculty and staff participating in social media, whether through personal or university-sanctioned accounts:
- Respect and Ethics – encourage different viewpoints and opinions
- Accuracy and Honesty – check the facts before you post
- Value and Interest – ask yourself if your content adds value and interest to the discussion
- Personality – use your own voice and bring your personality to the forefront
- Transparency and Disclosure – make sure you clearly identify yourself and your affiliation with the university
University employees are personally responsible for the content they post on university-managed social media properties – from blogs and microblogs to social networks, forums and other social media platforms. For tips and best practices on creating and maintaining a successful social media property for your department, unit, or project, visit the “Strategy” section of The University of Texas at Austin website.
If you manage a COFA-related communication channel (i.e. a work, not personal account), please alert Alicia Dietrich so she can add you to the college’s list of social media properties as well as UT’s more comprehensive social media directory.
Policies and Resources that apply to UT Social Media Properties
If you are managing a social media account, please familiarize yourself with the below policies to make sure that your communications are in compliance.
- Acceptable Use Policy
- Copyright and Fair Use
- Follow copyright and fair use laws to the letter.
- Equal Opportunity Services
- When maintaining or contributing to university-managed social media properties, we should follow the same standards of nondiscrimination and social conduct as outlined by Equal Opportunity Services at the university. We should also expect the same of our visitors to the university’s social media outlets.
- Extended List of Category-I Data
- Protect confidential or personal information from The University of Texas at Austin and of students, faculty or staff members. If you have any questions about what constitutes classified data, consult the Extended List of Category-I Data provided on the Information Technology Services website. It’s important to be transparent to your audience when posting on behalf of the university about work-related matters or other issues related to the university.
- FERPA and Students’ Privacy
- Be aware of and follow FERPA and students’ privacy, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 protecting students’ personally identifiable information in educational records.
Best Practices for Engaging with Social Media
- At UT Austin we encourage different viewpoints and opinions, and as a participant in social media, you should, too. Be respectful of others’ viewpoints. If you disagree and would like to engage in a conversation, do so cordially, logically and ethically. As always, the university’s code of ethics applies, even in the realm of social media and online networks. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “private” social media Web site. What you write from your home computer may follow you to school or work. Never post something that you wouldn’t want your supervisor to read.
- Write about your areas of expertise, research or study at UT Austin. If you are writing about a topic related to the university, or research conducted at the university, but you are not the in-house expert on the topic, make this clear to your readers and check the facts before you post. If there is a Web site you used to gather facts, provide the link for your readers to show accountability. Also, always write in the first person. Your unique voice contributes to the overall message of the university. If you make a mistake, admit it. Your followers will be more willing to forgive and forget if you are up front and quick with your correction. Maintain a high level of quality that exhibits superior grammar, punctuation and spelling.
- When communicating using social media or blogs—Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Blogger, Word Press, or others—on behalf of UT Austin, or in your role as a university staff or faculty member, make sure you clearly identify yourself and your affiliation with the university. Being open about your ties to the university will illustrate credibility and transparency. Make sure you have a formal disclosure that identifies your comments as your unique viewpoints. For example, if a UT employee expresses an opinion about the Jefferson Davis statue or the race-based admissions Supreme Court case that differs from language the university has released, they may want to be clear that these are personal opinions and not UT’s official stance. You might consider making a note on your profile that, “The posts on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent UT Austin’s academic goals or opinions.”
- When writing for personal blogs or social networking sites, make sure you disclose your affiliation with the university if you discuss university-related topics. This will enhance credibility with your readers.
- Assume conversations about UT Austin are internal and private. Ask permission prior to sharing these conversations via social media properties.
- Please don’t post announcements on social media unless news has been officially announced. The communications department often has a strategy behind the timing and roll-out of an announcement, and leaks on social media could jeopardize relationships with reporters or agreements on exclusive placements of news.
- Always show respect. Don’t publish content containing slurs, personal insults or attacks, profanity or obscenity, and don’t engage in any conduct on a social media site that would not be acceptable in UT Austin workplaces or classrooms.
- Be aware of your association with UT Austin in online social networks. Your profile and content should be consistent in the manner you wish to present yourself to colleagues, students, parents, alumni and others.
For More Information
- If you have questions about this social media guidelines document, contact College of Fine Arts Director of Communications Alicia Dietrich.
- If you observe inappropriate behavior on a social media property managed by or affiliated with the College of Fine Arts, please contact Alicia Dietrich.
- If you want to exchange ideas with UT Austin colleagues who are engaging with social media, please subscribe to the Social Media Collaborative through UT’s listserv.