Franklin & Marshall College's social media policies are designed to help guide members of the community who have chosen to engage in social media in their professional capacity.
Most of these policies serve to extend to the social media sphere existing F&M policies and regulations. The guiding principle for many of these policies is the responsibility of all employees to keep student and personnel data confidential. This consolidation of existing policies ensures that F&M employees understand the relevance of our existing policies in our social media spaces.
This should help users of social media at F&M avoid risk if they choose to engage with audiences via social media. These policies pertain to the publication of and commentary through social media by employees of the College and related units using the Franklin & Marshall name or athletics identity (i.e. Diplomats). These policies do not apply to use of individual or personal social media accounts, except to articulate employees' responsibilities that apply universally, whether or not communicating via social media.
All users of social media should be aware that social media accounts registered by the College, as well as F&M's academic and administrative units, allow the social media company hosting the account to transfer, copy and redistribute the information posted online by other users and the social media company.
Used jointly with the College's Institutional Social Media Strategy and various Best Practices documents for social media platforms, these policies should help users of social media at F&M avoid liabilities, such as claims related to violations of copyright and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), that might result from posting or redistribution of content.
Franklin & Marshall faculty and professional staff who have conducted an assessment and have chosen to engage in social media should publish or comment via social media in accordance and in compliance with these policies and other Franklin & Marshall policies and standards regarding the use of technology, computers, email and the Internet.
In this document
What is social media?
Social media are "two-way" Web-based and mobile technologies that encourage engagement, interaction and discourse with users by allowing users to contribute to the overall content. This is distinct from more traditional "one-way" Web technologies where only the administrators or manager of the page manages and posts content, such as a common website.
For the purposes of these policies, social media means any two-way technology or other facility for bimodal online publication and commentary, including and without limitation: blogs, discussion forums, interactive geolocation (e.g. Foursquare), media sharing sites (e.g. Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest), podcasts, social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) and wikis (e.g. Wikipedia), whether existing now or in the future.
Do these policies apply to me?
These policies apply to all employees, including student employees, who have chosen to participate in online social engagement for F&M-related purposes or who are asked by supervisors to engage in social media as part of their job responsibilities. Franklin & Marshall College employees are subject to these policies:
when posting content using an institutional account, or
when posting content using a personal account to the extent they identify themselves as a Franklin & Marshall College employee as a representative context (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal blog or post on topics unrelated to Franklin & Marshall College).
Examples of posting on a personal account in a context representative of the College (personal posting on personal accounts is not discouraged, but confidentiality and other College policies extend to postings in these types of cases):
"Speaking as an X in F&M's Y department, I can tell you …"
"I can say as the professor of X at F&M that … "
"One thing I see every day as an X [employee] at F&M is…"
"The procedure for my department at F&M is …"
Creating Institutional Social Media Accounts
Accounts representing a unit of the College must be created by an authorized representative of that unit using an fandm.edu e-mail account. Accounts must be administered by a Franklin & Marshall College employee. For security and to avoid issues of liability, students may not be named as administrators (i.e. students must not have the ability to delete the account, edit account passwords or edit the list of administrators). This policy does not apply to social media maintained by student groups or student-run initiatives.
A unit's authorized administrator(s) must maintain the security of account passwords and identification. These individuals are fully responsible for all use of accounts and any actions that take place using the account. Administrative access to accounts should be suspended and/or transferred once an employee leaves the College.
Whenever possible, "Franklin & Marshall College," "Franklin & Marshall" or "F&M" should be listed with the name of a department, office or program. Consistency in naming helps maintain clarity for College responsibility for accounts, helps users find relevant F&M units in search results, makes it easier for those units to network with each other and has the additional benefit of helping to build name recognition.
Accounts and pages also should, where possible, feature the unit's official name, logo and/or signature.
Examples of account names:
Franklin & Marshall College [insert name]. Example: Franklin & Marshall College Sociology Department.
FandM[insert name]. Example: FandMSociology
A good Twitter handle should be as short as possible, but cannot contain an ampersand.
F&M_[insert Name] or Franklin & Marshall_[insert Name]. Example: F&M_Music
Franklin & Marshall [insert Name]. Example: Franklin & Marshall Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development
Please note, if you have established a social media account before reviewing these policies, do not change the name of the existing account, as doing so can change a URL and confuse the audiences and users with whom you have established relationships.
Units are encouraged to use photographs that display the campus on their social media pages. Design elements that incorporate the College's marks and colors can be obtained from the Office of College Communications. F&M's Office of College Communications is responsible for monitoring and safeguarding the use of the Franklin & Marshall College name, logo and brand to ensure uses that reflect the College's mission and values and to safeguard against inappropriate uses of the College's registered marks.
Notify the Office of College Communications when you have established—or plan to establish—a social media presence. Doing so allows College Communications to network and coordinate content for all F&M-related social media accounts. Email Social Media Coordinator and Web Producer Tim Brixius: .
Above all, use of social media via Franklin & Marshall-owned computers or equipment, or via Franklin & Marshall-owned or -controlled networks, is subject to Franklin & Marshall's current policies regarding information technology.
As a Franklin & Marshall employee, the following must be considered when posting content (text, photographs, audio or video) for institutional accounts. Please note that most of these policies also apply to individuals posting in the context of their role as an F&M employee when posting on personal accounts.
When administering an institutional social media account, post content on affiliated social media platforms only in the name of that unit.
An administrator of a unit's social media page should not appear as an individual commenter on that page. This maintains the privacy of individuals who are administrators of F&M's social media channels and also preserves the consistency of the unit's voice online. (While Facebook maintains Public Figure accounts for celebrities, athletes, politicians and other public figures, which allow the administrator to comment in his or her voice directly to "fans," F&M currently has no individuals with these "celebrity" accounts.)
Social media platforms should not be used to post detailed policy or procedural information.
Instead direct users to official College websites or publications in order to avoid discrepancies and to minimize the need for updating.
Share only information that is appropriate for the public.
Content should be posted with the understanding that it may be redistributed through the Internet and other media channels.
Do not share privileged or confidential information.
College employees are not permitted to divulge confidential information concerning Franklin & Marshall, or information concerning third parties, that Franklin & Marshall has a duty to keep confidential, including, but not limited to:
Health, financial, employment and other personal information regarding faculty, professional staff and students.
Student academic and disciplinary information.
Information regarding Franklin & Marshall's business, marketing and development plans.
Information regarding the identity and finances of Franklin & Marshall donors without express written permission.
Information regarding litigation and other legal matters involving Franklin & Marshall.
Information that Franklin & Marshall is contractually obligated to keep confidential.
Methods, designs, software, manuals, patented information, and other trade secrets.
All other information that, by its nature, would be understood by a reasonable person to be confidential.
Be mindful of copyright issues.
Do not post copyrighted material unless that posting is clearly permitted under the fair use doctrine of U.S. Copyright law, or has been expressly authorized by the holder of the copyright, including Franklin & Marshall College. Do not violate the trademark or service mark rights of any third party, including Franklin & Marshall College.
Get permission when representing others.
Avoid posting images without the express written permission of any identifiable subjects. Do not cite Franklin & Marshall faculty, staff, students, vendors, business partners or other members of the Franklin & Marshall community in an official capacity without approval of the person or party cited.
Do not sell or endorse commercial products.
Endorsing commercial products or services as an F&M employee or unit is not permitted. Doing so is a violation of the College's non-profit status. Do not post content that might cause someone to believe that his/her name, image, likeness or other identifying aspect of his/her identity is being used, without permission, for commercial or for-profit purposes.
Do not promote political campaigns.
Because of the College's non-profit status, there are prohibitions against using College resources to endorse individual candidates or parties in a political campaign.
Do not position yourself as an official spokesperson of the College unless you have been authorized by Franklin & Marshall to do so.
Official institutional communications—including blog and social media postings—must come from the Office of College Communications or other F&M authorized offices maintaining an approved department-level social media presence. This ensures that the College maintains its accountability to provide accurate information in areas such as public safety emergencies, admission application deadlines, or other areas where the proliferation of incorrect information is common and could have significant consequences.
Do not provide employment references.
In accordance with Human Resources policies, do not provide an employment reference on behalf of the College for a current or former Franklin & Marshall employee.
It is important to avoid defamation or misrepresentation. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue or misleading. If you make an error, correct the mistake quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so.
Content directed at an individual user or account should be written politely and never in a way that could be interpreted as combative or demeaning. To avoid accusations of and liability related to defamation, do not post content that might be embarrassing to an individual or that could be construed as placing an individual in a negative or false light. For further guidance, consult the College's Standards of Conduct Policy.
Avoid personal use during work hours. In accordance with Human Resources policies, refrain from personal use of social networking sites during work hours defined by your supervisor.
Account managers in F&M's units are required to monitor their social media pages to remove content that violates the College's social media policies.
The College's social media efforts should encourage fans, followers and friends to share their thoughts by commenting on content within the following guidelines, which should be prominently displayed on each unit's social media site under the label "Disclaimer Language":
Account administrators reserve the right to review all comments and posted materials and remove content for any of the reasons below.
Comments must be relevant to the topic and to the point.
Comments should be constructive and absent of expletives, obscenity and vulgarity, in accordance with College guidelines.
Comments with personal attacks or elements of defamation of individuals will be removed immediately.
Posts with links that are determined to be spam or advertising will be removed immediately. Exceptions may be made for content determined to be relevant to building community (e.g. an ad from a local business or an alumnus advertising a job opening).
Provided that a comment fits within the criteria above, it should not be removed simply because it is negatively critical of Franklin & Marshall or a unit or employee of the College. Maintaining a social media fan base requires respect for free expression, as users are less likely to participate in a discussion they perceive to be censored. The College also values freedom of speech and expression as an essential element of civic discourse.
Policy violations may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for cause.
For questions about any of these policies, contact Social Media Coordinator and Web Producer Tim Brixius in the Office of College Communications by emailing or by calling 717-358-7179.
Last updated 1/24/13