Academic Support Office
Student and Academic Services
Student Social Media
June 2018 Author:
Updated by: Lisa Allden Originating Directorate:
Student and Academic Services Approved by:
Operational Leadership Group Date of approval:
September 2019 Effective date:
September 2019 Due for review:
De Montfort University (DMU) recognises the numerous benefits and opportunities that
social media presents. We actively use social media to engage with students and the
general public, to celebrate success, communicate research and enhance the university’s
profile online. Therefore, DMU also actively encourages university students to make
effective and appropriate use of social media channels and to use them to engage in
conversations with the DMU community.
Despite the opportunities presented by social media, there are risks. Social media allows
individuals to communicate either in their name or anonymously with a potentially huge
audience, and sometimes its informality can encourage us to be less cautious than we
would be using other more traditional methods of communication and interaction.
Inappropriate use of social media can be damaging to the reputation of the University as
well as have a negative impact on staff and students.
This policy is for students and provides information on the appropriate use of social media
when connected, or linked in some way, to their status as a student of the university, or
when directly or indirectly referencing the university in any way.
This policy works alongside the following separate institutional policies and regulations:
• General Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students, and in particular chapters 2
• Policy on Dignity and Respect (Students)
• Use of Computers Policy
• Freedom of Expression
• Academic Freedom Policy
The principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom apply to the use of social
media; however, the university requires responsible and legal use. (See also the
university’s Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom
For the purpose of this policy, the term ‘Social Media’ is used to describe virtual channels
dedicated to live streamed or scheduled uploads, community-based input, interactions,
content sharing and collaboration through the building of virtual networks and communities.
Websites and applications dedicated to forums, microblogging, social networking, social
bookmarking, social curation and wikis are among the different types of social media. It also
includes any other means of communicating on the internet where members of the public
(including staff or students) may reasonably access the communication.
They currently include, but are not limited to, Facebook (and Messenger), Instagram,
WhatsApp, Snapchat, Allo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, and
This policy applies to social media communications made both on public and private forums
by students including those communications which directly or indirectly reference the
University. This policy applies to social media from anywhere including off-campus and on
personal devices whether to an individual, group or the world. While posts added to public
forums can be seen by any member of the public from the date of publication, students are
asked to remember that posts added to private forums can also be shared publicly by
others. Students may be subjected to disciplinary action where they have been careless or
reckless in the communication they have posted, even when they believe the forum to be
private. There have been a number of high-profile cases in recent years where students
across the country have been disciplined after offensive comments, made on private
messaging services such as WhatsApp, were captured and subsequently shared. With this
in mind, students should remember that action can be taken by the university if behaviour
failing to meet policy guidelines is identified either publicly or privately.
Students are encouraged to be mindful of how their identity, statements or views appear
online and are reminded that future employers and industry contacts may view social media
profiles when recruiting to gain information about a candidate’s character, personality or
employability. Students should therefore be conscious of publishing both texts and digital
posts that may hinder them, for whatever reason, in the future.
Students are encouraged to review their existing social media accounts and, where
appropriate, to transition to a more professional appearance. Some advice and guidance is
given in Annex A.
All students must read and act in accordance with the principles of these guidelines, and
regularly check the University’s Student Regulations webpage
for any minor updates to
In addition, it is recommended that students read and act in accordance with the rules and
guidelines set out by individual social media companies and providers.
Students should check the terms and conditions of a social media account and/or website
before uploading material to it; by posting material to social media accounts and/or
websites, ownership rights and control of the content may be released. For this reason, it is
important to exercise caution in sharing all information, especially where the information,
expressly or by implication or innuendo, identifies a third party.
Students must be aware of the potential impact and permanence of anything posted online.
Therefore, students’ should avoid posting anything that:
• They do not wish to be in the public domain
• Contravenes sections 4, 5 and 6 of this policy.
Any digital material posted online could reach a wider audience than was expected or
intended. Once digital content has been created and shared, there is limited control over its
permanence and audience.
Behaviour and conduct on social media
Students are personally responsible for what they communicate on or through social media
and they must adhere to the standards of behaviour set out in this policy and any related
policies, such as Policy on Dignity and Respect Relating to Students and the General
Regulations and Procedures Affecting students.
Students as users of social media may witness other members of society increasingly using
social media for raising complaints and grievances. However, any students wishing to raise
a complaint, report a crime or an incident should do so via the established university
channels, e.g. Student Complaints Procedure,
or by contacting the Police; they should not
raise complaints or air grievances via social media. This is the fastest way to get a
response and resolution to your problem. Students should contact the university and/or the
Police as soon as possible, saving any evidence, e.g. screenshots of social media.
Remember that by airing any grievance or complaint publicly, it may limit any action that
can be taken and can lead to civil action against the author if the complaint is found to be
Use of social media must not infringe on the rights, or privacy, of other students or staff and
students must not make ill-considered comments or judgements about other students, staff
or third parties.
We recommend that permission to share third party material, including all images,
photography, text and videos, should be sought and recorded in a tangible format before
uploading them to or linking them via social media. Furthermore, where permission is
obtained, we recommend such materials should be credited appropriately. Guidance can
be obtained from the Library website at http://library.dmu.ac.uk
The following non-exhaustive list is considered to be of an unacceptable nature and should
never be posted:
• Confidential information (which may include research not yet in the public domain,
information about fellow students or staff or personal matters, non-public or not yet
approved documents or information)
• Details of complaints/potential complaints and/or legal proceedings/potential legal
proceedings involving the University
• Personal information about another individual, including contact information, without
their express permission
• Comments posted using fake accounts, made-up names or using another person’s
name without their consent
• Inappropriate material, including but not limited to images, that is, or may be perceived
to be threatening, harassing, discriminatory, illegal, obscene, indecent, defamatory, or
hostile towards any individual, group or entity
• Any other posting that constitutes, or may constitute, a criminal offence
• Anything which may bring the University into disrepute or compromise the safety or
reputation of colleagues, former colleagues, students, staff and those connected with
Students should be mindful that statements on social media that cause harm to an
individual, including to their reputation, or that interfere with an ongoing disciplinary/legal
process may create a potential claim against the individual making the statement.
Furthermore, this may extend to the sharing of statements made by others.
Students should also be aware that communications on social media are also subject to
legislation, which aim to prevent interference with legal proceedings regardless of intent to
An individual, including the complainant, may undermine proceedings or processes by
publishing information, including imagery, relating to existing or potential complaints and/or
legal proceedings. This may be done in the heat of the moment; however, students should
be aware that by doing so they might bring the university into disrepute or compromise the
safety of the university community. As such, this conduct may be seen to be of an
unacceptable nature, as per paragraph 4.5 above.
Students, and student groups, e.g DSU societies, must take particular care not to state or
imply that their views are those of DMU when using social media, nor use the University
logo at any time.
5. Cyber bullying
The University will not accept any form of bullying or harassment by or of members of the
University, students or stakeholders or visitors, e.g. De Montfort Student Union. Additional
information can be found in Chapter 2 of the General Regulations and Procedures Affecting
Students and the Dignity and Respect policy and the Information Security policies and
guidelines, found here.
The following non-exhaustive list of examples illustrate the types of behaviour, displayed
through social media, which the University considers to be forms of cyber bullying:
• Maliciously, negligently or recklessly spreading rumours, lies or gossip
• Intimidating or aggressive behaviour, as perceived by those viewing the social media
• Offensive or threatening comments or content, as perceived by those viewing the social
• Posting comments/photos etc. deliberately, negligently or recklessly mocking an
individual with the potential to harass or humiliate them, as perceived by those viewing
the social media.
Cyber bullying may also take place via other means of electronic communication such as
email, text, instant message, video, audio or images – edited or otherwise.
6. Students use of official university accounts
Some students may contribute to the university’s official social media activities as part of
their role, for example taking over the Snapchat or Instagram accounts, vlogging, writing
blogs or running an official Twitter account. Students should be aware that while
contributing to the university’s social media activities they are representing the university.
Misuse of official University accounts may lead to suspension and, following a disciplinary
committee, may lead to expulsion; students will not be eligible for readmission to the
University at any time in the future as per Chapter 2 of the General Regulations and
Procedures Affecting students
Breach of the policy
If a student is found to have acted in breach of this policy this may lead to consideration of
disciplinary action being taken against them in accordance with Chapter 2 of the General
Regulations and Procedures Affecting Students
Any individual suspected of committing a breach of this policy will be required to cooperate
with any investigation in accordance with the disciplinary procedure. Non-cooperation may
lead to further disciplinary action in accordance with Chapter 2 of the General Regulations
and Procedures Affecting Students
Any individual may be required to remove internet or social media posts that are found by
the university to be in breach of the policy. Failure to comply with such a request may result
in further disciplinary action.
Any breach of this policy must be reported in line with DMU’s Student Complaints
In the first instance, any breaches must be brought to the attention of the DMU
Security Team by email at email@example.com
or by phone on (0116) 257 7642.
The university will:
• Ensure this policy, and any changes, is accessible to staff and students
• On occasion, provide guidance for students on how to stay safe online when using
social media. Initial guidance is available at Annex A. Further guidance on Staying Safe
is available from ITMS.
• Monitor references to the university on social media and the internet and respond to
complaints regarding student conduct on social media
• Take disciplinary action where inappropriate behaviour is exhibited that affects students,
staff, the University or members of public in accordance with the university’s General
Regulations and Procedures Affecting Student
s, and in particular Chapters 2 and 14 of
• Annually review and update this policy, where appropriate, and any other associated
policy and guidelines and publish details of any changes.
Annex A – How to use social media
How to use social media
Tips and hints on staying safe and managing your reputation
We all recognise the enormous benefits and opportunities that social media presents and we
actively encourage our students to use social media to communicate and keep in touch with latest
news and research in their area.
Despite the opportunities, there are risks. Social media allows individuals to communicate with a
potentially large audience, and sometimes its informality can encourage us to be less cautious
than we would ordinarily be.
These tips are to help you when you are considering posting on social media. They will help you
manage your professional reputation and ensure you follow university guidelines and the law.
The Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT) are able to provide support and
guidance for users of various social media technologies.
• Remember, everything you post online is public
. Once it’s out there you lose control of
how others might interact with it. Posting anything online (even on closed profiles or private
messaging services, like WhatsApp, for example) has the potential to become public, even
without your knowledge or consent.
• Think before you post.
Would you be happy for your family, lecturer or future employer to
see it? If not, then it’s probably not a good idea to post it. There have been a number of
high profile cases where students across the country have been disciplined after offensive
comments made on private messaging services, like WhatsApp, were captured and
• Consider how the content of your messages may appear to others.
materials, including text, images and video, have the potential to cause serious upset and
severely damage your professional and personal reputation. Consider how others may
perceive your content. How could a potential employer view the content? Employers are
increasingly checking the digital footprint of potential staff.
This means looking at old
tweets, posts and comments on forums. Will sharing the content result in you falling short of
expected standards at university and the law? If so, it could result in the university taking
disciplinary action. Don’t forget, it can be hard to take something back once it has been
shared, copied, or redistributed.
• Check your privacy settings
. Protect your personal information and that of others that
could be misused. Think about who can see your address, telephone number, date of birth
and email address. And, definitely don’t share your bank details online. Also remember that
while you may be sharing the content privately (on your own private profile or in a private
forum) others can share that content publically if it is available.
• Use Secure Passwords.
Remember to use a secure password and current advice for this
is to use a pass phrase of three or more words that you can picture in your head. Never re-
use passwords across different websites. Where possible use second factor authentication
methods, which may include sites sending an SMS or an authenticator app on your phone.
For further information see https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/passwords/
• Make sure you familiarise yourself with expectations regarding professionalism and
confidentiality on your course
, especially if your course is accredited by a professional
body. If you breach the code of conduct of a professional body, it is very likely to affect your
ability to study and your future career.
• Be aware of sharing third-party materials
. Do you need permission to share the
materials or should you, as a matter of courtesy, contact the party? Make sure you check
before posting as infringement of rules could break copyright and/or intellectual property
• Finally question everything you read online
. Not everything you read might be
completely accurate. Who wrote it? Where did it come from? Does the imagery look poor
quality? If you think it looks or sounds inaccurate, it’s probably best avoided. Writing and
distributing inaccurate statements about people and organisations can be unlawful and lead
to legal action.