Skip Navigation and Go To Content

Handbook of Operating Procedures

Use of Social Media

Policy Number: 219

Subject:

Social media

Scope:

Members of the university community

Date Reviewed:
August 2018
Responsible Office:
Office of Public Affairs
Responsible Executive:
Vice President of Development and Public Affairs

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) recognizes the value of social media in supporting the university’s mission and promoting the university, its schools, programs, institutes, centers, departments, clinics and affiliates to the university community and the public.  To ensure that social media is used appropriately and in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, all members of the university community who create, manage or contribute content to university-sponsored social media and/or non-university social media must abide by the requirements of this policy as well as all other applicable university policies and guidelines.

II. DEFINITIONS

Social media: A group of Internet-based applications through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, as well as other content, including but not limited to, blogs, discussion boards, wikis, video or audio podcasts, mobile applications, file sharing sites, and online professional/social networks. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and YouTube. Social media does not include official university websites.

University-sponsored social media: Any use of social media by or on behalf of the university or one of its schools, programs, institutes, centers, departments, clinics, affiliates or recognized employee organizations or for activities conducted in the course of university business.

III. PROCEDURE

A.  Creation of University-Sponsored Social Media

The creation of any university-sponsored social media by the university or one of its schools, programs, institutes, centers, departments, clinics, affiliates or recognized employee organizations must be approved by the Office of Public Affairs.  The Office of Public Affairs website contains the requirements and guidelines for establishing university-sponsored social media. 

B.  Management of and Contribution to University-Sponsored Social Media

University-sponsored social media is governed by the same policies that govern other forms of university communications.  All members of the university community who create, manage or contribute to university-sponsored social media must adhere to the guidelines established by the Office of Public Affairs as well as all applicable university policies.  Members of the university community are expected to uphold appropriate ethical and professional standards when posting to or managing the content of university-sponsored social media (HOOP 109, Standards of Conduct). Members of the university community who post to university-sponsored social media are also expected to know and abide by the policies of the social media provider.  Failure to abide by any applicable university policies may result in removal of a particular social media site or account, revocation of social media privileges, and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination or dismissal.  (HOOP 44, Faculty Reappointment and Non-ReappointmentHOOP 133, Faculty TerminationHOOP 153, Termination of Appointment: Administrative and Professional and/or HOOP 187, Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees).

To ensure consistency and effective communication of the university’s message to internal and external audiences, all content on university-sponsored social media must follow the university’s editorial and graphic standards (HOOP 116, Editorial, Graphic, Web and Signage Standards).  Likewise, any use of the university’s logo or school logos must be approved by the Office of Public Affairs and comply with the university’s graphic standards (HOOP 8, Use of the University Name, Logo or Seal).   

While not responsible for content posted by others on any university-sponsored social media, the university reserves the right to monitor and moderate all posts to university-sponsored social media.  Any post that is deemed obscene, vulgar or otherwise inappropriate may be removed.  Third-party posts do not constitute or imply any endorsement of their content by the university.

Members of the university community must maintain the confidentiality of university trade secrets and private and confidential information. Private and confidential information may include student records, patient information, internal reports, proprietary research, policy discussions, decision-making or other internal business-related confidential communications.   Accordingly, no confidential or proprietary information about the university or any member of the university community, including employees, students, trainees and patients, may be shared on on social media, including university-sponsored social media.  This includes protected health information and educational records (HOOP 206, Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information and HOOP 129, Educational Records).   Further, the use of any photographs, motion pictures, video and/or audio recordings on university-sponsored social media must comply with HOOP 6, Photographic, Audio and Visual Recordings.

Any use of a third party’s materials must comply with applicable copyright laws and regulations.  Consult the Office of Legal Affairs for any questions about whether the use of particular materials requires permission from the copyright owner (HOOP 47, Classroom and Research Use of Copyrighted Material)

Members of the university community may not post any statements to university-sponsored social media that imply endorsement by the university of any products or services.  Any solicitations posted to university-sponsored social media must comply with HOOP 165, Solicitation on Campus.  Likewise, any third party links to or from university-sponsored social media must comply with the requirements of ITPOL-024, Website Linking Policy

University-sponsored social media may not be used for political or religious purposes or to conduct or promote a personal business (HOOP 38, Political Activity and HOOP 180, Acceptable Use of University Information Resources)

C.  Personal Use of Social Media

Members or groups of the university community are free to use social media in their personal capacity so long as such use does not interfere with their responsibilities or duties at the university or violate any applicable university policies.  (e.g., HOOP 180, Acceptable Use of University Information Resources; HOOP 8 Use of University Name, Logo or Seal).  When using social media in a personal capacity, members or groups of the university community must not give the impression that they are representing, giving opinions, or making statements on behalf of the university.  Therefore, when appropriate, users should include a disclaimer stating that the opinions expressed are their own and are not necessarily those of the university.

Members or groups of the university community may not disclose any confidential or proprietary information of the university or its employees, students, trainees or patients through personal use of social media.  This includes internal reports, procedures, internal business-related confidential communications and other private and confidential information as described in Section III.B. (HOOP 206, Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information and HOOP 129, Educational Records).   Disclosure of such information may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal. Review the guidelines on the Office of Public Affairs website for additional information.  

Employees may not use university resources, including university email, websites or university-sponsored social media to promote personal blogs, websites and other social media.

IV. CONTACTS