Social networking sites like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook are as innovative as they are popular. These sites give us a tremendous opportunity to socialize and market ourselves. But remember that with this opportunity to express ourselves comes an equal obligation. The following are key points to keep in mind when you use social media.
- Your online presence is not invincible. Posting personal information such as class schedules, cell phone numbers, addresses, personal information or photos, opens your personal life to anyone who has access to viewing your profile.
- The internet is an open, unlimited international community. Your social media privacy settings are important, but do not always protect unauthorized users from accessing your information.
- Your profiles ARE being searched by possible employers. UT’s Office of Career Services works with hundreds of employers that use social media, and even hire students with the purpose of checking applicants’ social media profiles. Make sure that you are comfortable with a potential employer seeing anything you post.
- Your profile NEVER really goes away. Internet search engines engage in a practice called caching, which means that if you post something on social media, let’s say for a day, or moment, just to be funny or to make a point, even if you take it down or change it, it remains accessible to the rest of the world anyway. The process to have this information removed is very burdensome, time consuming and not always effective.
- You are creating a brand for yourself. Almost everyone is more complex of a person than a single label can explain, but for most people it takes time and effort, if not real friendship, to get to know people’s complexities. Don’t give people an excuse to think of you in a single dimensional way. What you put out on social media should be an invitation to the rest of the world to get to know you better.
- You are responsible for what you say. A threatening or harassing statement is personal abuse whether it is uttered in person, or posted on someone’s profile. No official at UT will spend hours pouring over social media postings, but if someone files a complaint against threatening or harassing use of your site or the site of others, it will be addressed through the conduct process. If an administrator does come across a questionable posting, it is common for that administrator to meet with that student to discuss their concerns.
- You can cross the legal line. Untrue statements about others can be libel or defamation. Posting embarrassing pictures of others can be an invasion of privacy. Use of organization names or insignia on your site can be a copyright infringement.
- You are a Spartan! This resource offers some things to contemplate when using social media, all of which can be summed up in the five values of the Spartan Code: honesty, citizenship, trust, respect and responsibility. As a Spartan, you have committed to upholding these values, which translate into productive, fun and safe use of these technological tools.
Some of the information used in this resource is used with permission from Cornell University. The original document can be found at: it.cornell.edu and was authored by Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy & Law Program, Cornell University, April 2006.