Last updated: March 2021
St Catharine’s College recognises the numerous benefits and opportunities that a social media presence offers. The College will actively use social media to engage students, staff, Fellows, the public and other key groups, communicate research and news about College life, and enhance the College’s profile online.
As part of this, the College:
- aims to build relationships and work with St Catharine’s students to share information about its activities online;
- welcomes the fact that students will often come to College with an existing social media presence and that they may wish to expand that on arrival;
- encourages students to make effective and appropriate use of social media, and to engage in conversations with the collegiate community.
These guidelines have been written to help students manage social media accounts and to avoid the pitfalls that can be associated with ill-judged social media use. They should be read alongside related College and University policies, which are updated from time to time:
At all times, students are expected to behave in a way that is consistent with membership of our collegiate community and to comply with the law, including when using social media. Breaking the law will be considered seriously by the College and could lead to a student being investigated by the police and other relevant agencies. Where conduct is found to be unacceptable, the College may take appropriate action, in line with the College’s Rules of Behaviour.
Guidelines on social media use
A student’s personal social media account is a valuable tool for them to use and it is their choice what to post. The following general guidelines are intended to assist students in making the most of their social media use while at College.
- Consider the effect your post might have on your future career and that of students around you. Where a student is on a professional programme of study, misuse of social media may breach their profession’s codes of conduct.
- Treat others with respect when online.
- Express opinions and be critical, but consider doing so in a balanced and measured manner and remain factual.
- Ensure you have permission to ‘share’ other peoples’ materials and acknowledge the author.
- Properly manage any group/social/society social media account(s) – see the advice below entitled “Moderation and management of society pages/private groups etc”.
- Think before posting – what you share, wherever you share it, could be made widely available to the public and media and, even if you delete it, could have a life well beyond what you intended. If you aren’t sure about whether you should publish or not, consider asking a close friend for their thoughts.
- Look at your privacy settings. Consider what personal information you share and whether you want to reduce the amount strangers can find out about you. Also consider what you say in your biographical/profile section of your account. This can lead to added interest but also to unwelcome attention.
- Be aware of your personal safety – check your geo-tag settings. Some apps and social media will reveal your current location to others.
- Take a break from social media, especially if you feel it is taking up too much time or if you are feeling angry, tired, stressed or have been drinking alcohol.
- Cross-promote your accounts and interact with University and College social media accounts.
- Consider the accuracy of any information and the veracity of the sources that you are sharing.
- Remember anything that damages a student’s reputation can also damage the College’s and University’s reputation, intentionally or not.
- Don’t break the law. The errors most likely to be made include serious harassment and abuse, defamation (e.g. libel, where your comments seriously damage the reputation of someone) or committing contempt of court (posts relating to active criminal investigations and trials in a court of law).
- Don’t use University or College branding on personal accounts.
- Don’t publish confidential or sensitive material.
- Don’t breach copyright, data protection or other relevant legislation.
- Don’t assume your information is private. For example, it may be possible to determine your College affiliation and/or the location of your household if you ‘check in’ or tag posts with your location on a regular basis.
Moderation and management of society pages/private groups etc
Many social networks offer an opportunity for members of the public to comment below content that you have posted on behalf of a group or society. We would advise against letting this go un-checked, and, indeed, ideally you should follow and implement a moderation policy. As an example, you could look at the moderation policy the University of Cambridge uses to manage its Facebook page. Students moderating group pages (for formal or informal societies) might also find the University’s Social Media Guidelines for staff a useful reference point.
Harassment on social media
Anyone can report an incident to the College (please refer to our Bullying and Harassment Policy). The College will act immediately to support our students who witness or experience harassment. Where students are in receipt of or witness offensive, unacceptable content via social media, this can be reported to their Tutor, Postgraduate Tutors or the Welfare Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you experience any problems online, please discuss these with your Tutor/Postgraduate Tutor in the first instance. If they are unavailable, please contact the Communications Manager (email@example.com) or the Welfare Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How the College uses social media
The College takes an interest in posts made by societies and groups, which bear the St Catharine’s name, which specifically reference or tag St Catharine’s in their content, or from accounts followed by the College. This is a helpful way to identify news and activities relevant to our community, which the College may then share via its own channels.
Social media is not used speculatively to monitor the activity of St Catharine’s students, unless explicitly linked to the College in the ways set out above, except in cases where reports have been received that constitute a risk to individual(s), College property or College reputation. In such cases, the College reserves the right to examine public posts involving St Catharine’s members or locations.
In addition, social media privacy settings do not prevent other users taking screen grabs, in order to share what post with a wider audience or to report issues to the College or other authorities, even if the relevant content has since been deleted. In very serious cases, the law allows for the investigation of private posts by the police.