Best Practices for All Social Media Users

On all social media, think twice before posting: Social media have the ability to send your message around the world instantaneously. You need to be sure that you want everyone to read what you've written before you push the send button. Any comment that you do not want to make in a public forum is also one that you not want to publish on a social media page.

Check your posts carefully: By their very nature social media move quickly. The ease and speed with which you can post on these sites fly in the face of careful editing and fact-gathering. Be sure about your facts. Take time to look over grammar and spelling. This is especially important if you are posting on behalf of the university.

Understand that social media represent a conversation, not a monologue: Your posts may well generate responses. That is what social media try to encourage. But those conversations should not degenerate into inappropriate or unlawful conduct. Familiarize yourself with the university's Social Media Comment Practices, specifically the definition of inappropriate comments. Evaluate responses carefully with this policy in mind.

Clearly identify any opinions that you might express as your own: If you choose to identify yourself as a Washington and Lee employee on a personal web site, or a personal page/account on a social networking site, blog or other social media, you must make it clear that the views expressed are yours, that those views do not reflect W&L's views, and that you are not authorized to speak on behalf of W&L. Posting a disclaimer such as the following is sufficient: "I am not authorized to speak on behalf of Washington and Lee University. All opinions on this website/blog/site are mine and do not reflect the views of Washington and Lee University." In general, if you make any comments about Washington and Lee or any of its programs on social media, you should be upfront about your affiliation with Washington and Lee.

Be aware of liability: Anyone who posts to a blog or other social media site is liable for that content. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts).

Protect your identity: We strongly recommend that you avoid publishing the kind of personal information that could be used against you by identity thieves. This includes your home address and your telephone numbers.

Obey the Terms of Service: Be familiar with and obey the Terms of Service associated with the social media platform.