Social Media Policy and Guidelines
One of the many impactful ways BCSG-recognized student clubs and Campus Life-supported student organizations can further their respective mission and goals is through utilizing social media. Using social media comes with a responsibility to engage in a respectful, professional manner that is befitting to you, your community, and the college. Please be aware of and follow the Bates College Code of Student Conduct. All college policies apply to your club/org’s use of social media. Here are some important guidelines designed to help navigate social media spaces with a high level of ethics and consistency with our community values.
- Whether you are posting for your student club, organization, employer or your own personal social media activities, assume that everything you post is public and will be available to the public forever. Keep in mind your posts, comments, and engagements can be screenshotted, forwarded or copied.
- Do not share confidential or proprietary information about Bates College students, faculty, staff, or alumni. This includes, but is not limited to, financial, recruitment, student conduct and/or human resources data, reports, and conversations.
- Do not infringe on the privacy of your friends, peers, staff, faculty, or other community members. Never post personal information of others that could be embarrassing and/or damaging to them. If posting photos, obtain consent of those depicted before posting.
- Post accessibility is key! At minimum, all information that is included in an image should also be described in a caption or other descriptive text on the post, and videos should be captioned. Check out this resource for more ways to make your posts accessible to everyone!
- When the content you post relates to the college, keep in mind that those who see the post may see it as representing the official stance of Bates. Make it clear in your account bio that you are speaking for yourself by using a disclaimer, such as: “The posts on this account reflect my/club/org etc. opinions and not those of Bates College.”
- Respect Copyright and Fair Use. When posting content, honor the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the college. Do not post content, photo, video, music recordings or otherwise if you are not the rights holder. If you are using an approved image or video, make best efforts to credit the photographer/videographer when space allows or through the use of a watermark or lower-third. Student groups and clubs should be careful to not use copyrighted music in their projects unless they have explicit approval – many social media platforms mute or remove such content, and some may deactivate your account if this is a recurring issue. Violating copyright could result in heavy fines for your club/org. Please review the Bates College Copyright Policy for more information.
- No posting of nudity. With the very narrow exception of physical (non-live-action) works of art, such as a painting, drawing, or sculpture, no images of nudity or graphic depictions of a sexual nature should be posted on the channels which choose to associate with the college.
- Be accurate and check sources. While social media makes it easier to share our ideas, it should never be used to spread false or misleading information. Check and double-check your facts before you post, and cite a verifiable source for data, information, and points of view that are likely to be controversial. If your purpose is to educate, always provide your audience with resources to engage with.
- No posting of alcohol or drug use. The topic of alcohol and alcohol usage among college-aged young adults is a particularly sensitive subject. Even if the content shows only students or staff of legal age (21+) drinking, you should refrain from posting such content.
- Do not publicize personal identifying information about Bates College students, faculty, staff, alumni, or community members such as date of birth, phone numbers, social security numbers, banking information, home or residential addresses, class schedules, or any other personal contact information.
- Social media is designed to create conversation. Many platforms’ algorithms are currently designed to elevate conflict generated by that conversation. Be prepared for negative reactions; and select administrators and moderators who can and will react (or not react) with a calm, thoughtful demeanor when necessary. We encourage you to follow the college’s digital comment policy as a baseline. If you wish to have more stringent moderation rules, discuss that with your members and feel free to reach out to the Bates Communications Office with questions. If in doubt about how to engage with or react to a specific comment or post, contact Campus Life – we’re here to help!
- For Bates-branded or Bates-affiliated accounts (e.g., your student club/org social media account), note that these accounts belong to the group, and are not for personal social media use. With that in mind, work to arrive at consensus before posting. While it’s acceptable for content to have one person’s voice or tone, the overall message should be agreed upon by your peers before publication.
- Determine who will be in charge of managing your club/org social media account(s), for what length of time, and the scope for which they will be posting on behalf of your club/org. Be sure that individuals who have access to your account are trusted partners, and would not post something that would tarnish your club/org’s reputation. In general, individuals who are not members of your club/org should not be given access to your social media accounts. Be especially careful when permitting account “takeovers,” and after a takeover has ended, change your account password to ensure individuals don’t retain unintentional access to your account.
- Make sure you have at least two agreed-upon admins with access to the credentials to your accounts. Ensure that the email associated with your social media accounts is one that will theoretically last forever — ideally an @bates.edu email set up specifically for your club. Avoid using your personal Bates email address, or outside email addresses such as @gmail.com. You can reach out to email@example.com to request one. Be sure to keep track of what your login info is, and who possesses it.
- If you create a social media presence, you are responsible for monitoring and updating it regularly to ensure it contains the latest, most accurate information. This includes acknowledging mistakes and correcting errors as soon as possible, as well as warning and, if necessary, blocking users who violate the college’s comment policy.
- Be sensitive to which accounts your social media account follows and engages with. Your “follows” list can be interpreted as a statement of the values and sociopolitical positions of your club/org.
- If you have a complaint related to a peer, your club, organization, classroom or coursework, etc. it is encouraged that you first try to resolve the issue by speaking directly with the person if possible and/or your supervisor or a faculty or staff member whom you consider part of your support network.
- Do not use statements, photographs, video or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating, that disparages any member of the college community, or that might constitute harassment, bullying or accusation. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone’s reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion or any other status protected by law or college policy.