The rise of social media has brought with it great opportunities for interaction that were not previously available. This allows individuals to readily communicate with their peers, institutions and other entities quickly and easily. It allows for direct feedback and ease of collaboration that will enhance relationships within the university and in the greater community. The university understands the prevalence of social media and its capacity to enhance the student experience.
Using social media is not without its risks however, because content does not always remain as private as you think. Employers and other organisations such as universities are increasingly raising awareness of the risks, that accompany the opportunities, of communicating in what is effectively public space.
While enrolled at UNSW there will even be circumstances where your social media use can overlap with your obligations as a student. The university aims to provide some guidance to you as students about using social media generally, and some issues to consider when that use is associated with the university such as when you identify yourself as a UNSW student or interact with a UNSW social media site.
What is social media?
Internet based tools for sharing and discussing information among people. This refers to user-generated information, opinion and other content shared and discussed over digital networks.
Examples of Social Media include: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube.
Suggestions for using social media
- Always treat people with respect in the online world even if you have a disagreement.
- For social media tools which have adjustable privacy settings, you should always ensure you take all necessary steps to safeguard your privacy, and the privacy of anyone else whose information is visible or accessible.
- Remember when dealing in online spaces to consider the differences to more traditional forms of communication: in particular content is far less likely to remain private and it is difficult to accurately perceive tone. Conversations don’t always remain solely between the participants but could be viewable by the wider community and communication that may seem benign or as a joke when written can be perceived otherwise.
- Social media content doesn’t go away. Keep in mind that whatever you upload, post or tweet could one day be seen by a potential employer (or anyone else).
- Never use social media tools to bully or harass another person – especially fellow students or staff, and if you are working, the same should apply to your co-workers. You could find yourself in trouble with the university or even the law.
- Many unofficial UNSW social media sites, particularly on Facebook now exist. Students should take care when engaging with these and remember that making racist or sexist comments, breaching other students’ privacy by uploading unauthorised photographs or revealing information about them is contrary to the UNSW Student Code of Conduct and you could face misconduct action.
Take more care in these situations
- Wherever you are representing the university via social media (for example where a student is the administrator of a University-related social media resource) or identifying yourself as a UNSW student (for example, when you have UNSW listed in the ‘about me’ section on Facebook) as the Student Code of Conduct can come into effect in these instances.
- When you are interacting with the university in a formal sense via social media (for example commenting on an official university page, ‘tagging’ the university in your own messages or posts).
- When part of an online community based around a university activity (for example, an official School, Faculty or year group such as a Facebook group).
- If you are both a student and staff member of UNSW (in which case the staff policies will also apply).
- If you have a fair complaint about something within the university there are official channels through which to raise issues (for example, the Student Complaints and Appeals process). That will be more effective than disparaging the university or its staff on social media.
- You should feel free to discuss university work using social media tools with peers but don’t forget the rules regarding plagiarism and other academic misconduct apply there as well. Displaying answers to assignments, seeking assistance with work offering a fee or reward or using social media to encourage others to do the wrong thing could all be situations where the university’s Student Code of Conduct comes into effect.
- Remember if you are using UNSW WiFi or working at a terminal with a UNSW IP address you need to follow the university’s IT resources policy which includes avoiding communication that is discriminatory, harassing, defamatory or illegal in other respects, and this can extend to social media usage.