Social media policy a work in progress

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

While social media has become a valuable way to create community on campus, it has also made it a very public one.

TRU is working on developing guidelines for social media that will apply to all users associated with the university. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

TRU is working on developing guidelines for social media that will apply to all users associated with the university. Jessica Klymchuk/The Omega

The online world might seem like a free-for-all, but TRU is working on creating a policy to outline appropriate online conduct for users associated with the university.

The social media committee, coordinated by the marketing and communications office, first met in April 2013 to begin a formal discussion about social media use within the TRU community. By the end of the academic year they plan to have documented guidelines and recommendations, but not rules, for social media use.

TRU currently monitors social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr and sometimes Instagram. The social media page on TRU’s website states “our goal is to provide a community where people feel encouraged to share content and ideas in a respectful environment, and we reserve the right to remove posts that we feel undermine this goal.”

Associate vice president of marketing and communications Lucille Gnanasihamany began the initiative to form a more documented social media policy when she arrived at TRU last year. She said guidelines do exist, although they might not be well publicized. They encourage users to add value rather than noise to conversation and consider general courtesy and respect.

“While we don’t have any control over personal sites, certainly with any of the channels that are affiliated with TRU we do ask people to conduct themselves in a fair manner,” she said.

She said social media is very self-regulating and when conduct begins to slip there is usually some backlash from other users before formal action is required. Although the current guidelines are based on respect, the committee is looking at other university policies to help form some defined standards.

UBC’s social media guidelines state than inappropriate use on official or personal social media platforms is cause for disciplinary action. It outlines conduct for faculty use, personal use and official channel use. It says to never post anything you wouldn’t share in a classroom, avoid posting anything that could reflect poorly on your colleagues and don’t represent your personal views as those of the university.

“Codes of conduct and the expectations of respectful behavior at the university absolutely apply online,“ said TRU’s director of innovation Brian Lamb, adding that if it’s a question of inappropriate online conduct, a social media policy isn’t necessarily required to reprimand a user because it’s a behaviour issue.

“It’s all overlapping circles and a lot of this does fall under conduct, and I think conduct has many arenas,” Gnanasihamany said. “It could be an in-person conversation or an online conversation but we monitor and we reserve the right to remind people when we feel they have crossed the line.”

The social media committee includes Gnanasihamany, Brianna Senner from student recruitment, web editor at TRU open learning Lindsey Norris, marketing coordinator at TRU World Sherri King, advertising coordinator Bart Cummins and web strategist Matthew Tarzwell.