Shippensburg University Social Media Guidelines

Shippensburg University (hereafter called the ‘University’) uses multiple communications methods to provide information about the University and its member constituencies. These methods are used to keep various audiences informed to foster understanding and support for the University as well as to contribute to the University’s recognition and regard throughout the region and beyond. This comprehensive and coordinated University advancement program includes use of traditional media such as print and is expanding to include use of current social media. These new social media include, for example but are not limited to, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as other current media.

These guidelines will apply to social media accounts created for official business purposes of the University by University employees, including University faculty, groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. The guidelines will therefore impact students, faculty, and staff who utilize various social media for communication in conjunction with representing or in their official work for Shippensburg University.

One guiding premise for these guidelines is that any material that is presented on social media networks should represent the University as accurately and honestly as possible. In addition, any use should be aligned with the University’s mission and overall goals. The guidelines apply to University employees when they use social media as part of their work responsibilities on behalf of a department, office, etc. or where their personal online activities may reasonably leave the impression that they are officially representing the University.

These guidelines do not directly apply to personal social media accounts, i.e. social media posting by members of the campus community that are not on behalf of or represent the University and do not apply to students or student organizations and groups. However, these general guidelines may represent best practices for personal accounts. Posters to personal sites should communicate clearly that they are not acting in a representative or otherwise official capacity, or expressing views on behalf of the University. This may be done by an explanatory statement on each page saying the information represents the individual and not the University. Personal social media accounts should not be linked from official web pages, and should not use University logos or graphics.

In addition to these guidelines, all members of the campus community who plan to use social media should familiarize themselves with current University policies. These policies include, but are not limited to, the University’s graphics standards detailing use of the University’s name and logo, the Computing and Information Network Usage Policy and the Web Site Privacy Statement .

General Guidelines for Social Media Use

1. Individuals are responsible for what is posted on social media sites. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Always give people proper credit for their work and make sure you have permission to use something before you publish. Only those authorized may use the University’s or Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s brand and logos. Do not include University or System branding or logos in your personal postings.

Be aware that many commercial sites (such as YouTube and Facebook) impose "click through" Terms of Service agreements that are not acceptable for a public institution to execute. For example, these sites require a statement of “indemnification” and agreement to be sued in another state, such as California or New York. So, if these sites are to be used, understand that any agreement to these terms is being taken in your personal capacity alone. In other words, individuals will be personally, solely responsible for any legal claims that might arise as a result of the agreement "signed" by clicking to agree on the terms of service.

Not all "social media" tools are affected by these legal constraints. A blog hosted off of a University website or utilization of other tools already licensed for University use do not require separate legal agreements with third-party entities and do not create these same concerns. The key thing is to understand the tools being used and understand any legal agreements or forms. You should fully read and accept the terms of agreement as listed of all sites that you plan to use. It is expected that you will abide by all regulations and restrictions according to the end user license or agreement of the respective sites that you use. Everyone is also responsible to stay knowledgeable of any changes in those license agreements. Some terms and conditions can be found at the following links:

  1. Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities --
  2. Facebook Amended Pages Terms for State & Local Governments in the United States --
  3. YouTube Terms of Service --
  4. Twitter Terms of Service --
  5. LinkedIn User Agreement --

2. Social media sites are “public” and no information that is posted on behalf of or representing the University can be considered to be “private.” Expect that any information you post on these sites will be available for anyone to read or view and will be available, somewhere, for a very long time. Because of that, individual posters should carefully review all material they plan to post prior to it being posted. Once an item is posted, it cannot be completely deleted. For some segments of the campus community, this may mean implementation of a process by which material is reviewed by several individuals before it is posted. This is to be determined by the respective groups, but advice is available from the Office of University Communications & Marketing.

  1. Individuals for all social media sites that are considered to be officially representing the University should notify the Office of University Communications & Marketing of their site. They should provide the url for the account and identify the persons responsible for accessing and maintaining the site. Notification allows the office to assist the posters with messages and materials that compliment the University’ mission, goals and public statements. All officially-recognized social media accounts will be publicly listed by the University in a directory on the Communications and Marketing website. These sites and the related contact information should be verified annually and the information provided to the Office of University Communications & Marketing by Sept. 1 each year.
  2. All social media accounts officially recognized by the University should have at least two full-time University employees as administrators.
  3. When the employee who administers an account leaves the University for any reason, or no longer wishes to be an account administrator, it is the head of the academic or administrative department's responsibility to designate another employee to be an account administrator and remove the former employee's administrative permissions to the site.

3. Postings should be clearly identified so those viewing the information know the origin of the material or, when appropriate, the identity of the poster. At no time, should items be posted anonymously to any site. Individuals representing the University are expected at all times to make their affiliation with the University known so their comments will have more credibility and legitimacy.

4. Material should be accurate and represent current University information, policies, etc. Verify all material prior to posting to ensure its accuracy and, if an error is made, correct it immediately upon learning of the mistake. Be aware that some social media sites do not allow you to retract or repost messages.

5. Posters should always consider that postings, for the most part, are publicly viewable by a diverse group of individuals from on and off campus. Postings should represent Shippensburg University in a fair, accurate and legally appropriate manner while protecting the brand and reputation of the institution. Posters are also reminded that material may be taken out of context and shared outside of their respective forums resulting in misinterpretation or misuse of information.

6. Posters should be aware of appropriate regulations and rules related to copyright and fair use of material.

7. Posters may not use any of the University’s trademarks without permission from the Office of Publications and Advertising. The University’s Graphics Standard Manual detailing appropriate use of the University’s trademarks is available online at . The University’s trademarks should not be used on pages that are strictly personal in nature. Certain types of photos of members of the campus community also require approval of the individuals. A release form for such approval is available from the Office of Publications and Advertising.

8. Confidential information about the University and all members of the campus community should remain confidential. Propriety information about the University should also never be shared. Those who post information on behalf of the University should familiarize themselves with regulations relating to confidentiality such as the Family Educational Right and Privacy Act (FERPA). .

9. No posting should endorse commercial products, political candidates or political causes, or any other cause. The University does not make endorsements in those cases and no posting should give the impression that the University is making such a statement. No posting should be made that constitutes commercial use, such as linking to a commercial entity’s website to promote or endorse a product unless as agreed to as part of the University’s contract with a commercial entity. Information on commercial use is also discussed in the Computing and Information Network Usage Policy. . Information about political campaign-related activities of and at colleges and universities is available from the American Council on Education at

10. Postings on behalf of the University should not contain personal views or opinions. Sharing of personal views should be made outside of postings made on behalf of the University.

11. Social media is interactive and can allow visitors to comment on your postings and to interact in response to your postings. Posters are encouraged to determine whether comments will or will not be accepted. If comments are accepted, there should be a clear policy as to what type of comments may be deleted. Comments that may be deleted may include those that are deemed profane, threatening, personal attacks, or that are deemed as inappropriate for the site. Comments that may be unfavorable to your post may not be deleted just because they are unfavorable.

Each page posted on behalf or representing the University should contain a disclaimer that states the ability to remove material deemed inappropriate. Following is a suggested disclaimer:

“Welcome to Shippensburg University’s official (social media page) page. These pages are for discussion of issues directly related to the university. Shippensburg University reserves the right to remove material that may be deemed unsuitable. Content that includes offensive language, personal attacks, political, unsolicited advertising or promotions, or is otherwise deemed inappropriate may be deleted by the administrators.”

12. Posters should respect their work time and University equipment in connection with social media. Only official University-related postings are to be made using University equipment and during regular work hours. Personal postings should be made outside of work using personal equipment.

13. Material posted to the various social media sites should be relevant to the department or group posting the material. Since these sites represent Shippensburg University, the material should relate directly to the University or the respective department or group. Postings of a personal nature should not be made on University sites. In conjunction with relevancy, sites should include timely and up-to-date information so visitors will have the most current information possible.

Related Links

1. Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education intellectual property policy:

2. Use of Social Media in Higher Education for Marketing and Communications: A Guide for Professionals in Higher Education:

3. Social Media for Academic Purposes: