SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES FOR STAFF
We encourage responsible participation in social networking sites, subject to existing policies concerning the use of social media during work hours and other applicable policies, including, but not limited to, those concerning non-discrimination, anti-harassment, anti-bullying, and copyright/fair use. We ask that you carefully consider the very public forum you are participating in and act in a way that appropriately represents both your professional reputation and the Starkville Oktibbeha School District.
You are responsible for what you post; communications that would be deemed inappropriate or actionable if they occurred inside or outside of the classroom do not become acceptable merely because they are made online. Always bear in mind that once posted, you cannot take it back. Some specific guidelines we ask you to consider:
Use Common Sense.
Use common sense when posting online. While these guidelines are in no way intended to limit or infringe upon your rights to comment upon the workplace, it remains good practice never to post anything that would embarrass you or Starkville Oktibbeha School District or would call your professional reputation into question.
How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself. Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone else’s identity or misrepresenting your identity. Be honest about who you are, where you work, and what you do.
While the Starkville Oktibbeha School District respects the rights of its employees to exercise their rights, employees should not make any derogatory statements about colleagues or students or other comments that would reflect poorly on your professional reputation or the reputation of the Starkville Oktibbeha School District. You are ultimately responsible for your comments, and the Starkville Oktibbeha School District recommends that you thoughtfully consider your rights and responsibilities before posting.
Be Aware of Liability.
You are personally responsible for the content you publish online or send in a private message. “Content” includes personal comments, links, photographs, audio or video, and content created by other users that you choose to share, send, or re-post. As an employee of the district, content you post should not include provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, content showing or promoting the excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol or use of drugs, or any activity students are legally prohibited from doing. Remember, even with privacy settings in place, your content could be seen by students or parents or find its way into the public realm.
Know that “Delete” Doesn’t Mean Gone Forever.
Be mindful that any content you publish will be public for a long time. Not only can your content show up in Google and other search engines, but the FTC allows private corporations to store publicly accessible Facebook posts for a period of some seven years to be used in employee background checks made by current or potential employers. Moreover, even posts and messages that are “private” or designed to disappear after a short time may be subject to discovery in legal actions.
Once Posted, You Can’t Take It Back.
You should be mindful that once something is posted, you cannot take it back. In most instances, deleting content will not make it disappear. Deleted content can still show up in online searches. Or, with the click of a button, other users can take a screenshot, re-post, or share your content with others. Even if you share your content with a very limited number of people, nothing prohibits your contacts from sharing the information you post.
Be Mindful When Posting Photos.
Special care should be taken when posting personal photographs. Remember, your social networking site is an extension of your personality and professional reputation. All photographs should be posted with the assumption that they could end up in the public realm.
Always a School Employee.
The lines between public and private, personal and professional, are blurred in the digital world. Even when you have a disclaimer or use a different username, you will always be considered to be a district employee. Whether it is clearly communicated or not, you will be identified as working for and sometimes representing the school in what you do and say online. Your online behavior should reflect the same standards of honesty, respect, and consideration you apply offline.
Represent the District and the students and parents you serve in the best light. Respect the privacy and the feelings of others. Under no circumstance should offensive comments be made about students or colleagues (including administrators) nor Starkville Oktibbeha School District in general. Your posts and comments should help build and support the school community. You are responsible for what you post, be certain it is accurate and supports your organization. Before you post or share content, ask yourself if you would want to see that content in the newspaper or on the evening news. Would you feel comfortable if your content was read by colleagues, your students, parents, or the Board of Education? If the answer is “no,” then the content is best not shared.
Do Not Share Confidential Information.
Online postings and even private message conversations are not private. Do not share confidential information whether it is internal school discussions or specific information about students or other staff. Photos and videos of students should be posted only on your district social media accounts with parental consent, which is obtained each school year as part of enrollment and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It is an opt-out procedure that is coordinated at the district level and shared with employees each year to ensure proper information is withheld from social media release.
Protect Your Privacy.
You are responsible for understanding and controlling privacy settings on each social network you use. Always assume default settings will make your profile and any content you share publicly accessible. You should also understand that even with maximum privacy settings in place, or in social media apps designed to make content disappear, content can still find its way into the public domain.
Responding to Negative Comments and Criticism.
If you become aware of social media content that raises questions or objections about you or any other Starkville Oktibbeha School District employee, it should be reported to your supervisor without delay.