Ball State social media policy looks to protect university reputation

University social media guidelines


Protect confidential and proprietary information

Respect copyright and fair use

Don’t use Ball State logos for endorsements

Respect university time and property

Best practices-

Think twice before posting

Strive for accuracy

Be respectful

Remember your audience


A concise two-and-a-half-page document establishes exactly what is and what is not acceptable on social media in regards to Ball State.

Tony Proudfoot, a university spokesperson, said the policy may have been a record-setter when it was established November 2009.

“We believe that we are possibly the first institution to establish a social media policy in the country,” he said.

Proudfoot said the policy has spread beyond the borders of Ball State.

“We have nearly 30 organizations that use our social media policy, either in whole or in part,” he said. “They span higher education as well as nonprofit and private sector.”

The policy states that employees and students need to remember one essential rule when it comes to social media: laws and university guidelines still apply online.

“Our overall philosophy of social media is that if you can or can’t do it in the real world, then you can or can’t do it in social media,” Proudfoot said. “You cannot break copyright law in real life; you can’t break copyright law online.”

He said the university deals with roughly six to 10 social media cases a year. There have been two this year: a Twitter account named @bsu_makeouts and a Facebook page named Bsu Research Papers.

The Twitter account retweets pictures sent to it of students making out at parties and faced possible policy violations when it retweeted a picture in September of two people performing oral sex in a yard.

The picture was later taken down, and the university stopped its investigation of the account. The investigation then turned to finding the person who took the original photo.

The Facebook page Bsu Research Papers allows students to commission it for papers for their classes. Officially, it says the papers should be used as models only and discourage clients from using the papers in place of their own work.

Michael Gillilan, the director of the Office of Student Rights and Community Standards, said because the identity of the page’s moderator is unknown, the university cannot act against the page.

The page’s logo, however, does give Ball State reason to act, and Proudfoot said the university intends to.

“We would definitely pursue anyone who’s using our Cardinal logo or any of our logos without our permission,” he said. “I just learned about that particular one, so we’ll be acting on that soon.”

The university’s policies on its logo and name are used to protect its reputation.

“Our intellectual property, our logos, our marks are indications of authenticity, so we want to make that if they see those marks, they know that whatever concept they’re looking at is a representative of the university,” Proudfoot said.

Freedom of speech inevitably has its place in the discussions of dealing with social media, but Gillilan said it doesn’t apply to the Facebook page.

Proudfoot said the university is careful not to interfere with freedom of speech.

“We’re not looking to infringe on anybody’s First Amendment rights. … However, when somebody establishes a social media site that infringes on our copyright, we will go through the complaint process that is established at each of the social media outlets.”

He added going through the social media’s complaint process is usually very effective at resolving problems.


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