Personal Accounts and Sites

If you are active in social media, it’s likely that at some point you’ll want to discuss issues related to WPI through a personal account or site.

Be authentic. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as a WPI faculty or staff member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as a member of the higher education community, not as a formal representative of WPI. This parallels media relations practices at WPI.

A common practice among individuals who write about the industry in which they work is to include a disclaimer on their site, usually on their “About Me” page. If you discuss higher education on your own social media site, we suggest you include a sentence similar to this:

“The views expressed on this [blog, Web site] are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of WPI.”

This is particularly important if you are a department head or administrator.

Don’t be a mole. Never pretend to be someone else and post about WPI. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors. There have been several high-profile and embarrassing cases of company executives anonymously posting about their own organizations.

Take the high ground. If you identify your affiliation with WPI in your comments, readers will associate you with the university, even with the disclaimer that your views are your own. Remember that you’re most likely to build a high-quality following if you discuss ideas and situations civilly.

Be aware of liability. You are legally liable for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be proprietary, copyrighted, defamatory, libelous or obscene (as defined by the courts). Employers are increasingly conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.

Don’t use the WPI logo or make endorsements. Do not use the WPI logo or any other WPI marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use WPI’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate.

Protect your identity. While you want to be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use against you. Don’t list your home address or telephone number or your work telephone or e-mail address.

Follow a code of ethics. There are numerous codes of ethics for bloggers and other active participants in social media, all of which will help you participate responsibly in online communities. If you have your own social media site, you may wish to post your own code of ethics. For examples, see:

Monitor comments. Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments – it builds credibility and community. If possible, set your site so that you can review and approve (or “moderate”) comments before they appear. This allows you to respond in a timely way to comments. It also allows you to delete spam comments and to block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments. If comment moderation isn’t possible or appropriate, see if you can receive a notification whenever a comment is posted.

Link back. You are welcome to link from your social media site to wpi.edu.

 
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