Social Media Policy

These guidelines are designed to help Stanford employees, volunteers, affiliates, and consultants (e.g., creative agencies) in making appropriate decisions when managing and/or developing social media initiatives on behalf of the university. Additionally, the guidelines are intended to advise Stanford employees who indicate an institutional affiliation on their personal social media profiles on how to balance their affiliation with personal conversation.

These guidelines are intended to complement existing university policy. If there is a conflict between guidance in this document and a policy in the Administrative Guide, then the Administrative Guide controls. Further, these guidelines do not supersede or otherwise modify the social media communications policy adopted by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

Guidelines for all types of engagement on social media on behalf of Stanford

These guidelines apply to all types of use of social media on behalf of Stanford, including departmental use and use by individual employees whose job duties entail such use. Employees whose job duties do not entail such use may engage on social media on behalf of Stanford only with consultation from the communications lead for their respective schools or university units.

Avoid engaging in behavior that could raise actual or apparent conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment on social networks. Stanford’s Staff Policy on Conflict of Commitment and Interest sets forth seven types of prohibited activity that apply to university employees, including in their social media and communications duties. Those activities include, among others, using university resources or property for personal gain (e.g., using university social media profiles to enhance or endorse personal communications or personal social media profiles); using confidential or privileged information acquired in connection with the individual’s university-supported activities for personal gain (e.g., sharing nonpublic information through a university or personal social media profile); accepting gratuities or unsolicited gifts from private or public organizations with which the university does or may conduct business; and using university resources except in a purely incidental way for any purpose other than the performance of the individual’s university employment.
When engaging on social media on Stanford’s behalf, do not express political opinions or engage in political activities. Your political opinions can only be expressed in your individual capacity on your own social media accounts and, even then, avoid the appearance that you are speaking or acting for the university in political matters. Additional guidelines are available in the Political, Campaign and Lobbying Activities guide memo.
Minimize security risks to social media accounts and profiles that have the ability to affect Stanford’s reputation. Social networking services and accounts—and particularly those with a Stanford affiliation—are an attractive target. A compromised account can adversely affect Stanford’s reputation. To minimize risks to Stanford-branded social accounts and profiles, you should: (1) use strong, randomized passwords in concert with an enterprise password management tool that provides granular control over access to such passwords; (2) limit direct access to these social profiles through a social media content management system with full audit trail capability; (3) activate multi-factor authentication for all accounts where it is available; (4) register accounts using only email addresses; and (5) regularly monitor social media accounts—especially when they are not used frequently. Finally, you should also maintain a plan for recovering social media accounts in the event they are compromised. If you suspect your official account has been compromised, please notify the Office of University Communications immediately.
Do not maintain dormant social media accounts bearing the Stanford name. If you have created a social media account that bears the university name or marks, but that account is not used in regular and direct support of institutional priorities, you should take steps to have the account removed from the relevant social network.

Social Media 

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