- Think before posting. Privacy does not exist in social media. Public posts are indexed in search engines, and private comments can be forwarded or copied and easily made available to the public. Use privacy settings to restrict personal information on otherwise public accounts, but be aware of the limited protection this provides. Remember that what you post on your personal page could haunt you professionally.
- Be authentic. Be honest about your identity and don’t misrepresent another person. If you identify yourself as a Brown faculty or staff member in a personal post, also make clear that your views are your own that that you are not formally representing Brown.
A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this:
“The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brown University.”
This is particularly important if you are a department head or administrator.
- Take the high ground. If you identify your affiliation with Brown in your comments, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly.
- Be a valued member. If you join a social media site like a Facebook group or comment on someone’s blog, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t post information about topics like Brown events or a book you’ve authored unless you are sure it will be of interest to readers. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from websites or groups.
- Protect your identity. While you want to be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you. Don’t list your home address, telephone number, or e-mail address. Be aware of “phishers” or those who might try to hack your account, and reset your password in the event of a breach. Always log out of your account when using public computers.
- Be aware of liability. You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.
- Protect the shield. The Brown logo cannot be modified or used for personal endorsements, and the Brown name cannot be used to promote a product, cause, political party or candidate.
- Link back. You are welcome to link from your social media site to the Brown homepage and Brown social media sites.