Social networking guidelines

These guidelines touch on what can happen if social media is misused, and steps you can take to safeguard your own wellbeing and reputation while being a student; personal safety and security; and even your current/future career prospects.

These guidelines are designed to provide advice and guidance to University of Glasgow students who use social media. The benefits and popularity of social media may seem obvious and well-understood, but these guidelines touch on what can happen if social media is misused, and steps you can take to safeguard your own wellbeing and reputation while being a student; personal safety and security; and even your current/future career prospects.

Examples of social networking  include, but are not limited to:

  • Multimedia and social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube;
  • Internal or external blogs and micro-blogs including Twitter;
  • Community discussion forums such as Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups;
  • Review or public ratings forums such as TripAdvisor, BBC Have Your Say and MoneySavingExpert;
  • Wikis, such as Wikipedia;
  • Any sites where you can post text, photos and video of yourself and others, such as Instagram, Snapchat; Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, Tumblr;

Top things to remember when using social and digital media, at all times when you are at work, representing the University, or even in an informal or personal capacity

  • Think before posting: social media helps us work openly and connect or network with others – just stop and ask yourself whether you may end up regretting your post;
  • Adhere to the Regulations and Code of Conduct for Use of IT Facilities in the University of Glasgow (pages 49-52 of the University Calendar), the Code of Student Conduct, and the Dignity at Work and Study Policy – apply the same standards of conduct online as are required offline, whether acting as a student of Glasgow University or in a personal capacity;
  • Have you thought about what your comments might look like from another perspective? If in doubt, don’t post;
  • Accuracy: have you got your facts straight? Or the wrong end of the stick? Check the accuracy of what you are posting before pressing submit;
  • Your online footprint is permanent: remember once something is posted online it’s very difficult, or even impossible, to remove it. Be aware of how to restrict public access to your site, and find out how to check and adjust your account privacy/security settings.
  • Also be aware that even if you have good privacy settings, tweets can be re-tweeted/images can be shared etc far beyond their original audience and you will not be able to control that.

Beware the following

Trolling: Remember not to feed the trolls, but putting the shoe on the other foot, could your own comments be construed as ‘trolling’?;

If you are not sure what a troll is, for an example of an unprovoked attack, please see the famous Mary Beard (historian) and Oliver Rawlings (notorious schoolboy) case, or another case where a student was jailed for offensive tweets regarding Fabrice Muamba;

Hate Crime – it is a criminal offence to make certain comments online if they are of a discriminatory nature; If you are not sure what comprises Hate Crime or a Hate Incident, see our guide to dealing with Bullying and Harassment.

Political/current news commentary – there is nothing wrong with having a political opinion, or strong feelings about an issue, but don’t be a Keyboard Warrior. Be wary of venting uncontrollably on social media, even when you are sure you are in the right. Familiarise yourself with the time when Ruth Davidson (Conservative MSP) was bombarded with homophobic abuse via social media;

Popular scandalous websites or some Facebook pages, e.g. ‘Spotted in Glasgow Uni Library’ – these sites are probably here to stay – for good or ill – but think twice before getting sucked in to the mudslinging and ending up posting something you may regret later on.;

Photos and videos: A picture is worth a thousand words. Bullying or harassment can be in visual form as well as written. Beware of posting inappropriate photos on Instagram/Snapchat, etc. These are not as anonymous or ephemeral as you may think;

What to do if you wish to report inappropriate behaviour online

If you think you have been the target of online harassment or bullying yourself, or if you have witnessed inappropriate behaviour, and you would like to speak to someone in confidence, there are a number of things you can do.  Most sites will have a method of reporting unacceptable behaviour to the site administrators.

You can also adjust the settings on your site to restrict access to yourself, i.e. ‘Only me’ or only close friends, or you can block or unfollow certain individuals, or remove messages or photos which have been posted on your site by others if you feel they are inappropriate, or even if you just don’t like what has been posted.

If you feel that things have already gone beyond your control, consider speaking to your Adviser of Studies, or an academic member of staff, a University of Glasgow Respect Adviser, one of the university chaplains, or the SRC Advice Centre. They will be able to give you advice on what you can do if you wish to report the matter.

Useful links

University of Glasgow Dignity and Work and Study – Full Stop Campaign

Citizens’ Advice webpages including taking action against online harassment

Cyberbullying – although aimed at school pupils, this site provides some useful links and factsheets about cyberbullying and advice for young people on how to deal with it.