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Social Media Guidelines

Cal State Monterey Bay has an active and engaged faculty, staff and student body, and we love interactive ways to connect and share information online. The university encourages its faculty, staff and students to use tools such as social media to advance their work and heighten their experience as members of the campus community.

In an effort to give direction when using social media, University Communications has developed the following guidelines. These guidelines are not intended for Internet activities that do not associate or identify a faculty or staff member with CSUMB, do not use CSUMB email addresses, do not discuss CSUMB and are purely about personal matters.

What is social media?

We consider social media any technology tool or online space for integrating and sharing user-generated content in order to engage in conversations. These guidelines do not attempt to name every current and emerging platform, but some examples are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

If you post/manage a social media account on behalf of Cal State Monterey Bay:

Be connected. If you have been authorized by your supervisor to create a CSUMB social media site or a video for posting in locations such as YouTube, please contact University Communications for an approved logo and other images and to ensure coordination with other CSUMB sites and content. Social media channels are not considered official unless they are developed or authorized by University Communications, which maintains and publicizes a list of all official university social media channels.

As the administrator of a CSUMB social media channel, you accept the responsibility for maintaining current and accurate content and monitoring and moderating posts to that channel, including deleting comments and posts that do not meet the criteria set forth in these guidelines.

Best ways to respond using social media.
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Be respectful. As a CSUMB employee or representative, you should be mindful of the university’s public mission as a forum for thoughtful discussion of opposing ideas. Some online communities can be volatile, tempting users to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. Your reputation, and CSUMB's, are best served when you remain above the fray.

Be responsive. If a question or comment is directed toward you via your social media site or page, you should do your best to reply in a timely and appropriate fashion. If the comment is a complaint or critique, follow these tips to resolve the situation:

Be transparent. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the university, clearly state your role and goals. Discuss with your supervisor when you are empowered to respond directly to users and when you may need approval.

Be thoughtful. Before you jump into a discussion thread or respond to a posting, think about the implications. Will your response stimulate positive discussion, provide new information or insight, or inflame? If you have any questions about whether it’s appropriate to enter into a social media discussion or write about certain kinds of material in your role as a CSUMB employee, ask your supervisor before you post or contact University Communications.

Know the rules. Comply with FERPA, the CSUMB honor code and policies related to Conflict of Interest, Privacy, Security, Safety, Intellectual Property, Computing and Technology Resources, and Human Resources. Become familiar with the terms of service and policies of sites and networks in which you participate. Pay attention to updates. If the legal language is hard to follow, follow a respected blogger or two who discuss service changes in their posts.

You are responsible for gaining the expressed consent of all involved parties for the right to distribution or publication of recordings, photos, images, video, text, slideshow presentations, artwork and advertisements whether those rights are purchased or obtained without compensation.

Keep your personal views separate. Uphold the university’s mission and values in your activities. Don’t include political or personal comments. This includes changes to your photo or avatar in relation to political or social issues. Do not use CSUMB's name to promote or endorse any product, cause, or political party or candidate.

Personal site guidelines

Be authentic. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a CSUMB faculty or staff member, but please be clear that you are sharing your personal views, not representing CSUMB. This parallels media relations practices at CSUMB.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this: “The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CSUMB.”

Don’t be a mole. Never pretend to be someone else and post about CSUMB. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations.

Take the high ground. If you identify your affiliation with CSUMB in your comments, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly.

Be aware of liability. You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Follow the same CSUMB honor code, FERPA, Conflict of Interest Policy, Privacy and general civil behavior guidelines cited above including respecting copyrights and disclosures, and not revealing proprietary financial, intellectual property or similar sensitive or private content. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts).

Remember that all content contributed on all platforms becomes immediately searchable and can be immediately shared. This content leaves the contributing individual faculty/staff/students members’ control forever. Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Follow a code of ethics. There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics or adapt an existing code already on the Web. Monitor comments. Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments; it builds credibility and community. However, you can set your site so that you can review and approve comments before they appear. This allows you to respond to comments in a timely way. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.

Share and link back. Please share content posted on official CSUMB social media channels across your personal networks, and link back from your site to CSUMB.EDU. By virtue of self identifying as part of CSUMB in such a network, faculty/staff/students connect themselves to, and reflect upon, the university.


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