Social Media Guidance
BARD COLLEGE SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDANCE FOR STUDENTS
Bard College recognizes the value and importance of social media, as well as the opportunities it provides for communication, networking, and learning. Sites and applications such as Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Snapchat offer great opportunities to connect and explore, but the risks they present are often ignored or not recognized. It is important to recognize that online conduct is governed by the same laws, policies, and rules of conduct that apply to all other activities. Bard College urges students to be aware of the potential risks when making personal information public, to think through the future implications and possible consequences of all posts, and to make safe and thoughtful decisions when using social media.
THE INTERNET IS REAL… AND SOMETIMES FOREVER
Your online life is real life. Your online activity affects other people’s lives in big and small ways. Once you make a post online, you may lose control of it, even if you quickly delete it. Other people can save or screen shot your post, repost it, or share your post with other people without your permission. Your post can be cached by search engines or picked up by a media outlet. Once you make a post, it might be around forever, regardless of your wishes.
THINK ABOUT THE PERSONAL INFORMATION YOU SHARE ONLINE
Social media has blurred the line between public and private information. Some sites allow individuals to post phone numbers, class schedules, locations, and birth dates, but you should be extremely careful about what information you share online. Be aware that personal information shared online could be used for stalking and identity theft. Remember that people you don’t know may be reading your posts. Use and understand the privacy settings on social media sites, but be aware that all online posts – even non-public ones – have the potential of being widely distributed.
COLLEGE POLICY APPLIES
Bard College policies apply to students’ online conduct. College staff members do not “police” online social networks and the College is firmly committed to the principle of free speech. However, when the College receives a report of online conduct implicating College policy (such as harassment or stalking), it is obligated to respond in accordance with the Student Handbook and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy. This is true even when a student posts to a personal social media account using their own phone or computer while off-campus or during a break. The College has the right to discipline students for misconduct wherever it occurs, including online.
FEDERAL AND STATE LAW APPLIES
Information you post online can be used in criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. You are responsible for the content of your posts. Be aware of copyright protections and seek permission before reposting someone else’s content. Be careful when posting unverified information about another person. You can be sued for defamation or libel if you make posts about another person that they believe to be false or damaging. To reduce the risk of liability, the College recommends that you do not use social media to harass, threaten, insult, or defame another person or entity; or to engage in any unlawful act, including unauthorized access, identity theft, or other types of fraud. You are also responsible for complying with the terms of service of any social media service that you use.
YOUR POSTS HAVE IMPACT
What you post online can affect you and other people in profound ways, both positive and negative. Be aware that there are people on the other side of the words and images that you post. Before posting, consider the size of your audience and who may be affected by it.
THINK TWICE BEFORE POSTING
Once something is out there, it’s out there. Even items you delete can remain on the Internet for years, or be seen or saved by another person before you delete it. It’s important to realize that anything you post to social media, regardless of the privacy setting utilized, may become available to an unintended audience, such as College administrators, current or prospective employers, graduate school admissions officers, family members, and others. If you’re not absolutely sure you want it read, don’t post it. Also keep in mind that context, tone, and jokes can be misunderstood or overlooked online, so choose your words carefully and don’t hesitate to take a conversation offline.
FUTURE EMPLOYMENT AND APPLICATIONS
Your digital footprint is larger than you are. Employers often search for information regarding prospective employees online. Information posted on personal websites and social networking sites may be available or accessible, even when privacy settings are used. When posting online, think about who may look at your online presence in the future and what you want them to find.
GET PERMISSION BEFORE SHARING
Think twice before sharing other people’s information, posts, and pictures. It is a good practice to obtain permission before sharing other people’s content and updates, and before you post about them.
USE OF PSEUDONYMS
People often mask their identities online by using pseudonyms or handles other than their real names. Be aware that pseudonymity is not necessarily the same thing as anonymity, and that there are a variety of ways that posts can be traced back to their authors, even when posted using a pseudonym. You may want to use a pseudonym to protect your online privacy, which is not a bad idea, but don’t think using a pseudonym enables you to make posts that will never be connected with your real name.
THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT WHAT YOU CONSUME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media provides an amazing channel of new information, but be aware that not all information is accurate or true. Read closely, scrutinize claims and information, check sources and authors, consider the tone of the text, conduct your own research, talk to people offline, read more than one source or viewpoint, and assess the original source of the information.
Many students are unaware of how much time they spend on social networking sites and the impact this may have on academics and other student activities. If concerned about your use, call the Center for Student Life & Advising (x7454) or the Counseling Center (x7433).
This Guidance has been adapted in part from Oberlin College Guidelines on Electronic Social Networking. February 2018