The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the required standards of behaviour of students when using social media and other online communication tools.
The University recognises the benefits and opportunities offered by social media and other online communication tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Zoom, as well as University-provided tools such as Microsoft Teams and Moodle. It also recognises the benefits of online messaging channels such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and direct messaging functionality on social media platforms. These benefits include the ability to communicate in near real-time with our community, to understand the views and opinions of our audiences, and to better promote inclusion and prevent discrimination amongst our community.
However, alongside the benefits of these tools are also a number of risks, including potential legal, ethical or reputational issues which could ultimately result in significant harm to individual members of our community, and the University and its ability to provide a safe and supportive work and learning environment. The lines between personal and professional social media usage often become blurred, and content can circulate quickly, and rapidly get out of control.
This guidance is intended to support and protect students, making them aware of the benefits and potential pitfalls of social networking, and the consequences in place for misusing social media both as a University of Derby student and in personal life.
This guidance applies to students’ use of social media and does not apply to staff use of social media.
The guidance seeks to promote behaviour on social media which upholds the values in the Student Charter, in particular interactions in which students:
- Treat others with dignity and respect
- Value diversity
The University acknowledges the right to academic freedom and freedom of expression and understands the role that universities play in society as a place for debate, discussion and consideration of ideas. Students are expected to be aware of the standards of conduct required by the University and to maintain these standards, as set out in the student code of conduct, which applies equally to inappropriate behaviour via social media and other online communications.
The guidance relates to any aspect of online behaviour that is in any way linked to University of Derby including, for example, in a private group connected to study, making reference to University of Derby or responding to one of the University’s official accounts.
A student’s personal social media profile and comments are unlikely to be of interest to the University where no direct or indirect reference is made to it, any individual or groups of students, employees, partners and suppliers. However, the University may be concerned where the nature of a communication is regarded as being defamatory or misleading, where it undermines professional credibility or integrity or safety of students, employees, partners and suppliers or potentially damages the reputation of the University.
Social media is any interactive communication tool or platform that encourages participation, communication and the sharing of information in a public forum.
This may include, but is not limited to; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, , WhatsApp, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat, , WeChat, YouTube and blogs.
Your social media presence
When you are using social media, whether on your own device or via a University device, including your personal account/s and for learning, teaching and assessment purposes, the following should be considered:
- Posting anything online, even in private spaces, has the potential to become public without your knowledge or consent. You are personally responsible for what you share, including anything that you reshare from an original post (such as retweeting). Once online it's very difficult to delete or control how widely material is shared. Make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you share being public before you send it.
- Respect people’s privacy and don't share personal information about yourself or others, including email addresses, phone numbers or addresses in public posts. If you post anything about somebody else, including images and videos, do it with their knowledge and consent, and be aware of our Data Protection policy.
- You should also not share images of your student IDs on social media or online, and you must never disclose your University IT account password to anyone. People who obtain your personal information can impersonate you to commit fraud and other crimes, so it’s important to stay protected. For more information and advice on cyber security, visit the IT Services website.
- Think about who you want to be able to see your information and set privacy settings accordingly. Remember that even with the strictest privacy settings, others can share your posts, so you may have no control over who sees them.
- If you are invited into or are part of a private messaging chat on social media, there is nothing to prevent the contents of that chat becoming public. If you see something in a group you are part of that concerns you, leave the chat or group. If that concern is in relation to the University, or a member of the University community, you can seek support via Share for Support.
- Think before you send - the internet is not the place to let off steam. If you have a concern or a complaint relating to the University, don't post it. Instead, follow it up through the recognised channels either via your College / Programme, or via the Student Complaints procedure.
- If you see something on a social media site that concerns you, you can report it to the social media platform directly who will likely pass the complaint to the person who set up the space or group. If it concerns the University, or a member of the University community, you can seek support via Share for Support, or via contact Student Wellbeing. The Union are also able to offer support and guidance.
- If you are accessing social media using the University’s IT facilities or services, you must also abide by our IT Regulations and Acceptable Use policy.
When you are using your social media accounts, please ensure you do not:
- Do anything that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual e.g. making offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender reassignment, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or age; using social media to bully another individual or; posting images that are discriminatory/offensive or links to such content.
- Breach copyright e.g. using someone else’s work, such as images or content without permission; failing to give acknowledgement where permission has been given to reproduce something;
- Breach confidentiality e.g. revealing confidential information owned by the University or a third-party; giving away confidential information about an individual or organisation.
- Use the University of Derby logo or branding across social media platforms without the University’s prior written consent.
Misuse of social media
The University does not condone any form of harassment or discrimination, online or offline, and inappropriate social media use may result in action being taken under the Student Disciplinary procedures. This includes cyberbullying, the University considers the following behaviours to be forms of cyber bullying, including (but not limited to):
- Intimidating or aggressive behaviour.
- Offensive or threatening comments or content.
- Posting private images of an individual without consent (including, but not limited to, private sexual images of an individual).
- Sharing unwanted images (including sexual images).
- Posting comments, photos, etc; deliberately mocking an individual with the intent to harass or humiliate them.
- Sending messages or posting comments with the intent to trick, force or pressure the receiver into doing something that they would not otherwise be comfortable doing (grooming).
- Cyber bullying may take place via other means of electronic communication such as email, text or instant messaging.
Student Disciplinary action could, in serious cases, lead to suspension or expulsion. Where conduct may be an illegal criminal offence, the University may report the matter to the police. Beyond that, any member of staff, student or third party may pursue legal action if they choose to do so.