September 30, 2014
Social Media and a Safer University Community
This post is co-authored by Anne Shea (Social Media Manager) and Sally Coates (Safer Community Manager) at the University of Melbourne.
We love social media!
Most of us use social daily and wouldn’t be without it. We use it to stay in touch, to find new people who share our passions and interests, even to do our research. Besides, where would we be without baby elephant gifs?
Unfortunately, just as in the offline world, it’s possible to hurt others online. You can hurt people by not thinking before you post, and you can damage your own reputation in the process.
Here at the University everyone has the right to feel safe: this includes when using social media. We also all have a responsibility to promote safety.
The best question to ask yourself is…. “Would I say or do this to the person’s face?” If the answer is “No”, then it’s probably not OK online either.
Obviously, posts that are:
- Gossip or rumour-spreading
- Bullying or harassing
- Unwanted by the recipient
Are all not OK! What some people don’t realise is that it’s also not OK to share, ‘like’ or tag other people in posts like this. (On a related note, ‘liking’ a page just to see what happens there might seem harmless, but gives bullies a voice and can also give friends and prospective employers the impression that you endorse the content. Facebook even shows some of your 'likes' to people who aren't yet connected to you. Give it a pass).
So…..what you can do?
First and foremost…. do good! Be respectful. Be kind. Help create the sort of community on social media that we all want to work, study, live and play in. A community where we look out for one another.
Some more tips:
Update the privacy settings on your accounts so that you protect personal information. Don’t automatically save passwords on shared computers or devices - if you get sick of entering passwords there are heaps of services out there which will store them behind a master key (1password, KeePass and LastPass are popular options).
Respect the privacy of others. Don’t tag them in photos or places, or share their posts, without their permission.
If you see inappropriate social media behaviour, clearly ask for it to stop. If it doesn’t stop, do not engage further. Things you can do in these instances are:
Report and block unwanted messages and posts on social media sites.
Delete/block the person who is behaving this way
Keep evidence of the behaviour. For example, save texts or emails, or take screenshots of social media sites.
Get help and support (see below).
Sure, but what is the University doing? Where can I go for help?
If social media behaviour is causing you to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, harassed, bullied, or concerned about yourself or someone else, then help is available.
The University’s Safer Community Program is a support, information and referral service for students and staff. The Safer Community Program can support you to manage situations like this.
You can contact the Safer Community Program via:
Phone: 03 9035 8675
The University’s social media team also works with platforms such as Facebook to interpret terms and conditions and, where possible, protect our community. The social media team can help with technical advice such as how to report offensive content: contact email@example.com.
University policies and expectations still apply on social media, and the University may take action if the following policies are breached:
Some online behaviours are also criminal offences, so it can be useful to keep records and ask for help.