Social Media

Social Media Guidelines

I. Purpose

These guidelines pertain to University of Maryland faculty, staff and students who are publishing and commenting on social media on behalf of a UMD-affiliated account. This does not apply to personal social networking accounts that are set up by individuals for personal use. For the purposes of this policy, "social media" refers to any platform for online publication and commentary, including, but not limited to, blogs, and social networking sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, Vine, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

II. Social Media Values

Our community values and promotes academic expression and responsible behavior.

The University of Maryland recognizes the tremendous opportunity and responsibility in using social media to connect directly with prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, partners, donors, media, and community members.

We believe transparency, respectful engagement and free expression are essential. The University counts the diversity and inclusiveness of its community among its greatest strengths, and our community reflects a diverse set of customs, values and viewpoints. We believe that we should take consideration when dealing with topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory. We are committed to protecting the privacy of members of our community.

UMD faculty and staff are cutting-edge experts in their fields, and we encourage broadly sharing research findings on social media. As a leading public research institution, we support the myriad voices and expert opinions of our faculty and fully respect freedom of speech and academic commentary. Academia is a place where we welcome and encourage civil debate over ideas and, as such, we also welcome healthy feedback and the diverse viewpoints of others.

III. Social Media Guidelines

The official, authenticated University of Maryland social media accounts include:
In addition to these accounts, there are a large number of UMD-affiliated social media channels currently in use and managed by faculty, staff or students who serve in a communications role for their school, college, department, or area of campus.

Anyone who manages a UMD-affiliated social media account should adhere to the following:

i. Terms and Conditions:
All social media networking platforms have terms and conditions (i.e. rules) that govern the use of that particular community. If you decide to participate in these communities, you should familiarize yourself with the terms of service before you begin to engage, as signing up for an account means you agree with the terms. Here are links to terms and conditions for some of the most popular social media sites:

ii. Copyright Laws:
Please respect all laws and University policies governing intellectual property including those relating to copyright. Copyright protects original works of authorship that are "fixed in a tangible form." If you are using a work that is protected by copyright, you need to have permission unless your use falls under one of the exceptions to the license requirement such as fair use. Fair use allows portions of certain works to be used without permission under specific circumstances. Just because the University of Maryland is an academic institution does not automatically mean use of a copyrighted work is fair use. For more information on fair use and tools for fair use analysis, please see the University Libraries Copyright Guide:

You should not quote more than short excerpts of someone else's work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good practice to link to others' work rather than reproduce it. When sharing, retweeting, reposting or otherwise repurposing another user's social media content, always make sure the original poster is credited. On Facebook and Twitter, sharing a post or retweeting a tweet automatically provides attribution to the original author. On Instagram, regramming another user's photo does not give automatic attribution; make sure to tag the user in your photo caption to ensure that your audience knows where the content originated and that you've given proper credit to the author..

YouTube and other video streaming platforms require that, when uploading video, you must own or have rights to use both the video and audio components of the uploaded content. If you are using music or other audio created by another person, you must obtain permission to use the song (music composition, score, lyrics) and the sound recording in question; this could require obtaining permission from more than one copyright holder..

If you post copyright protected material on YouTube without permission, it may lead to your video being removed, a strike against your account, and ultimately fines for copyright infringement. For more information on copyright and how it applies on YouTube, see YouTube's guide:

iii. Privacy Laws:
We are committed to protecting the privacy of members of our community. Always use ethical judgment when posting information on social media about students, faculty, staff and alumni. The release of confidential or proprietary information about students is prohibited by law and governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of "student education records." A student education record includes any recorded information directly related to a student maintained by the University. With limited exceptions, the University may not release student education records without student consent.

FERPA allows the University to designate and publically disclose certain information that is generally considered not harmful or an invasion of privacy. This information is referred to as "Directory Information." UMD has designated the following information as "Directory Information:" Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address, Date of Birth, Major, Participation in Officially Recognized Activities and Sports, Weight and Height of members of athletic teams, Dates of Attendance, Degrees and Awards Received, and the most recent previous educational institution attended.

FERPA gives students the opportunity to "opt out" and not permit their "Directory Information" to be shared publically. While media may request "Directory Information," the University may not be able to provide it without student consent if the student has exercised his/her right to opt out.

iv. Community Guidelines:
Social media accounts create interactive digital communities around people, organizations or institutions, and such communities require management and moderation. Most social media platforms allow members of the online community to share comments and other user-generated content on established accounts. UMD-affiliated accounts should contain a disclaimer stating that any such user-generated content does not reflect the opinions or views of the University. Establish a clear, written policy about what types of content are acceptable and what types will be removed from your social platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. The policy should be public-facing and posted in the accounts' bios or descriptions. Below is the University's comment policy that you can use verbatim or model for your own pages. If you make any edits to this language, consult with the Office of General Counsel. Make sure you follow your own policy for deletion to avoid the appearance of censorship and denial of First Amendment rights.

Facebook Policy

We encourage you to share your comments and ideas. We value and respect diverse viewpoints and welcome productive dialogue within our Terp community. However, Facebook comments created by other users and not by the University do not reflect the opinions or views of the University or University employees. Furthermore, we retain the discretion to delete unacceptable comments including comments that:
  • Contain discriminatory, obscene, unlawful, threatening, harassing or defamatory language, images, video or content;
  • Contain commercial endorsements, advertisements, or are considered "spam" – repeated posting of identical or very similar content; or
  • Disclose confidential information, or personally identifiable information, such as an e-mail address, home address, or phone number for yourself or others
This page is not monitored 24/7. If you have an emergency, please contact the appropriate authorities.

For Twitter, it is also recommended to include non-endorsement language in your profile. Although Twitter's character limit on account bios prevents including a comprehensive policy, your accounts should include a simple disclaimer. This offers some degree of protection if your organizational account shares content from an individual who later posts something inappropriate.

Twitter Policy For An Organization

RTs ≠ endorsements.

For an individual's account, such as ones owned by faculty and staff, we encourage using a simple disclaimer.

Twitter Policy For An Individual

Views are my own.

v. Moderator Recommendations
Any social media manager also serves as a moderator for the online community he or she manages. As such, one of the manager's responsibilities is to monitor Facebook comments and Twitter replies and respond appropriately. In most cases, no response will be necessary. In cases where users ask questions, the moderator may want to respond with helpful resources and links.

Facebook Page administrators should manage their page and uphold the stated policy. In cases where Facebook comments violate the policy, the moderator should remove or hide the comment, according to their best judgment. For more on Facebook's Page moderation options, see Facebook's Help Center: Keep a record of any hidden or deleted comments.

Moderators will not be able to delete or hide posts and comments on other Facebook Pages or personal profiles, or any tweets by other users. These types of content are owned by other properties, and as such fall under the purview of those other properties. In these scenarios, it is recommended to avoid any response.

vi. Managing Reputational Threats on Social Media
Crises and reputational threats can happen online or offline. These can include incidents or threats of campus safety, tragedy, crime or natural disaster. A crisis may also involve an incident that threatens the University's reputation. The University Communications office will lead the institutional response, and communications and social media strategy. This office serves as the most accurate source to gather and distribute timely information from University Police, the President's Office and the Incident Response Team. This centralized approach and policy is in place to prevent misinformation, rumor-spreading and inconsistent messaging.

During a crisis event, please refrain from posting on your social media sites, unless you are re-posting from the University's primary, authenticated channels or using content provided in an issue brief. University Communications will provide issue briefs to campus communicators with guidance that includes suggested social media content, talking points, key messages, etc.

vii. UMD Voices & Expectation of Online Responsibility:
The University of Maryland expects and encourages responsible online behavior by members of our community who are posting on behalf of a UMD-affiliated account. Expressing comments and opinions via social media may be considered a reflection on the University and it is rarely possible to separate expressing personal opinions with University affiliation. When serving as an industry expert, faculty members and staff are asked to speak, write, blog and post on social media only within their areas of related expertise. We never stifle the voice of our faculty. However, we do remind all members of the UMD community that their voice does reflect on the reputation of the University. Employees must adhere to regular employee policies and standards of conduct, available on the University website.

viii. University of Maryland Brand:
The University of Maryland name or logo should appear somewhere in your social media profiles, such as your profile photo, cover photo or bio.

ix. Student Photography Permissions:
If students are in a public place on campus—such as McKeldin Mall—there is no legal expectation of privacy and there is no need to secure permission by student subjects to take photos for posting on social media.

In an effort to protect students that have opted out of disclosing FERPA information, including photography, University Communications suggests providing appropriate disclosure and notice when photography or video is occurring and reasonable alternative accommodations. For example, during an event where you are taking photos for social, a sign should be posted alerting attendees that photography is taking place and when possible, offering a "no photography" section for those who do not want to be included. In this scenario, waivers are not required because it is a large public event. Samples signs can be found here:

x. Safety Threats or Requests for Help:
If an individual uses your page to post knowledge of a possible safety threat or an actual threat to safety directed at you or others, call the University of Maryland Police Department immediately at 301-405-3333. While you may consider hiding the post, be sure not to delete it, which may hinder an investigation.

Clearly state if you do not monitor your social media site at all times for safety purposes. For example, you can include a sentence in your bio or account description that says: "This page is not monitored 24/7. If you have an emergency, please contact the appropriate authorities."

If an individual uses your page to post a plea for help, consider posting information about how UMD students, faculty and staff can access health services through the Health Center and/or Counseling Center, and contact the University of Maryland Police Department immediately.

IV. Contacts

For questions regarding these guidelines, social media platforms, or the University's social media strategy, please contact the University's Social Media Manager, Danielle Tarr, at