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Social Media Accounts Procedure - 61.18.01

College Policy Number/Title:

At Howard Community College (HCC), official social media accounts are administered by HCC employees who have undergone an approval process through the office of public relations and marketing (PRM). These accounts present a cohesive, professional, brand-appropriate representation of HCC across multiple social media platforms.

The official social media accounts must follow policies, procedures, and guidelines, including:

  • Printed and Digital Content, 61.03 and 61.03.01
  • Public Information, 61.04 and 61.04.01
  • Proper Use of Information Technology, 61.12
  • Internet Use, 61.12.03
  • Protection of College Information and Electronic Resources, 61.13
  • Safeguarding College Information, 61.13.01
  • Ethics and Conduct, 63.09
  • Website, 61.11, 61.11.01, and 61.11.02
  • Confidentiality of Student Records, 50.05

In addition, confidential and proprietary information about the college, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors may not be posted on any social media. It is also prohibited to post content on official college social media accounts that:

  • violates federal or state laws;
  • promotes commercial activity unrelated to the college;
  • endorses any product, service, or private organization;
  • engages in political activity;
  • shares personal information, including credit card information and other information that could lead to identity theft;
  • provides student information that is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA);
  • harasses, bullies, or conveys negative information that can potentially harm an individual, organization, group, or the college; or
  • includes lewd or offensive entries.

These prohibitions apply to social media accounts and groups (e.g., Facebook, Twitter,) created, administered, or monitored by college employees or students for the express purpose of officially representing HCC groups, departments, or organizations.

However, college employees acting in an individual capacity on privately held social media accounts must never share student information protected under FERPA. In their social media posts or activity, employees are cautioned to communicate that they are not acting in a representative capacity or expressing the views of the college.

Social Media Usage

  • One official, primary HCC account shall exist per social media platform, as created by the office of public relations and marketing (PRM). This account will be maintained by PRM and will be the predominant venue for general college interaction on that particular platform.
  • Official social media accounts for offices, departments, organizations, or groups within the college are secondary to the official accounts and may only be created with approval from PRM. PRM must have administrative access and/or passwords to all accounts created on behalf of the college or any of its departments, offices, organizations, and groups.
  • Official social media accounts must have at least two HCC employees, in addition to one PRM staff member, as administrators at all times. Should an administrator of an account leave the college for any reason or no longer wish to be an account administrator, it is the responsibility of the remaining administrator to remove the former employee’s administrative permissions, designate a replacement, and notify PRM.
  • Administrators of official social media accounts are expected to frequently update their account with relevant, engaging, and accurate content. Administrators must also regularly monitor their account, promptly respond to user concerns or questions, and address or remove inappropriate or questionable content or communications. Social media administrators who fail to follow these guidelines may lose their access or the account could be closed for failing to maintain HCC quality standards.
  • Official social media accounts must comply with the terms of use for the respective social media platform, in addition to college policies and procedures. Accounts must also follow the college’s social media guidelines, available on the portal or from PRM.
  • Unless otherwise directed by PRM and with PRM approval, employees do not have authority to speak on behalf of the college on any social media platform.
  • Before posting photos or videos to any social media account, appropriate consent must be received from any individual who is clearly perceived as the subject of the photograph. If editing is necessary, care should be taken to appropriately retouch the photograph without altering the subject.
  • Administrators of social media accounts are required to participate in periodic social media account users group meetings hosted by PRM for the purpose of sharing social media information, updates to policies and procedures, and best practices.
  • PRM reserves the right to remove content for any reason from official social media accounts, including but not limited to, content that it deems threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal. PRM reserves the right to close accounts without prior notice, if the social media administrator fails to follow these guidelines.
  • The college’s logo may not be used for any purpose without consent from PRM. Furthermore, all official social media accounts are expected to follow branding conventions and guidelines for visual identity as mandated by PRM.

Process for Creating an Official Social Media Account

To preserve the college’s reputation and promote a consistent online representation of the HCC brand, requests for a social media account to represent a HCC department, office, or other entity must be approved by PRM prior to creation. If a request is approved, applicants must sign and submit a Content Owner Agreement form, acknowledging that, as a designated social media “content owner,” they agree to the terms outlined in the agreement.

Once the Content Owner Agreement form has been submitted, a PRM staff member will create the social media account and assign the account administrators. The responsibility for monitoring and maintaining the social media account then falls to the content owner/administrators, with PRM providing assistance as needed.

Effective Date: 02/12/21

President's Office Use:  EDPRM

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