Online Communications Policies & Guidelines
NMC supports the use of social media to reach audiences important to the College such as students, prospective students, faculty and staff. The College presence or participation on social media sites is guided by College policy. This policy applies to all use of social media by NMC students, faculty and staff, unless otherwise provided, to represent or discuss matters concerning the College and/or members of the NMC community, whether or not such used involves the College's network or other computer resources, including online communications related to interactions in or about clinical and didactic course activities.
Distribution of sensitive and confidential information is protected under HIPAA and FERPA whether discussed through traditional communication channels or through social media.
"Social Media" are mechanisms for communication designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Examples of social media include, but are not limited to, collaborative projects (e.g, Wikipedia), blogs and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social networks (e.g., Second Life).
While this policy may need to be modified as new technologies and social networking tools emerge, the spirit of the policy will remain the protection of sensitive and confidential information and guidelines for proper etiquette. Social media often spans traditional boundaries between professional and personal relationships and thus takes additional vigilance to make sure that one is protecting personal, professional, and college reputations.
Regardless of how the forms of social media are used, faculty, staff and students are responsible for the content they post or promote. Content contributed on these platforms is distributed and accessible immediately.
Section 1: Policies for all social media sites, including personal sites
Respect copyright and fair use: When posting, faculty, staff, and students must respect and adhere to any copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the college. See also NMC's Copyright Policy.
All Nebraska Methodist College logos and/or the Methodist Health System logos are trademarked and the property of the Methodist Health System. No person is allowed to use any logos for endorsements or other purposes without the express written permission of the appropriate authorizer. No NMC logo or any other college images may be used on personal social media sites. The Nebraska Methodist College name may never be used to promote a product, service, cause, or political party or candidate.
Respect College time and property: College computers and time on the job are reserved for college-related business as approved by supervisors.
Terms of Service
Obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform employed.
Section 2: Policies for blogging, including personal blogs
Before creating a blog or making any entries using College resources such as computers, internet, software, etc., students, faculty or staff must contact the Marketing department. Blogs that engage students, alumni, faculty, donors, and other constituents must receive prior approval.
Anything posted on a blog may have repercussions in the future. People have been sued, refused jobs or fired from their jobs because of material they posted on their blogs.
In addition to controlling what you post on your blog, you can monitor the comments that other people post. While your credibility as a blogger depends in large part on your openness to comments by others, you can set your blog so that all comments come to you for review prior to appearing on your blog. Some bloggers post their policy directly on their blogs.
For your own protection, you should never give information that identifies you, such as your full name, your address or phone number. Don't make yourself a target to scam artists or predators.
Section 3: Email Etiquette Guideline
All employees are expected to use email for college business communications only.
Employee, faculty and student NMC e-mail accounts are the primary sources for distributing important college information. Information for students will also be posted on MyMethodist, the College student portal.
Although there are a variety of distribution lists available within the Nebraska Methodist Health System network, it is important to use good tact. When sending emails outside of the college, employees, faculty, and staff must abide by the CAN-SPAM Act.
Employees and students may not communicate via email any material that violates the privacy or publicity rights of another. Policies concerning privacy, confidentiality, including FERPA and HIPAA regulations, shall be strictly enforced for communications involving patients, employees, volunteers, employees, customers, visitors and other constituents.
In addition, published email communications may not disclose any sensitive, proprietary, confidential, or financial information about the Nebraska Methodist College.
Section 4: Institutional Social Media
If an employee, student, or agent of the College posts any material on behalf of an NMC department, the following policies must be adhered to in addition to all policies found herein:
Notify the college: Departments or college departments that have a social media page or would like to start one must contact Marketing at NMCmarketing@methodistcollege.edu.
All institutional pages must have a full-time appointed employee who is identified as being responsible for content. Current students can help manage pages but there must also be a staff member or faculty with administrative privileges.
Acknowledge who you are: If you are representing Nebraska Methodist College when posting on a social media platform, acknowledge so.
Have a plan: Departments should consider their messages, audiences, and goals, as well as a strategy for keeping information on social media sites up-to-date.
Link back to the college: Whenever possible, link back to the NMC Web site. Ideally, posts should be very brief; redirecting a visitor to content that resides within the Nebraska Methodist College website. When linking to a news article about NMC, check first to see whether you can link to a release on the NMC News page instead of to a publication or other media outlet.
Protect the institutional voice: Posts on social media sites should protect the College's institutional voice by remaining professional in tone and in good taste. No individual NMC department should construe its social media site as representing the college as a whole. Consider this when naming pages or accounts, selecting a profile picture or icon, and selecting content to post-names, profile images, and posts should all be clearly linked to the particular department rather than to the institution as a whole.
Section 5: Best Practices
Faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to follow the recommended practices below so that they may bring their online social media communications and presence in compliance with this and other applicable policies:
Be careful. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media. If you wouldn't say it on the front page of the newspaper, consider whether you should post it online. If you are unsure about posting something or responding to a comment, ask your supervisor for input or contact Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org. In all instances, think twice before posting
Be accurate. Get your facts straight before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. This is especially important if posting on behalf of the college in any capacity because regardless of who is posting content, it is the institutional voice.
Be respectful. Understand that content you and others contribute to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. Responses should always be considered carefully in light of how they would reflect on the 'poster' and/or the college and its institutional voice.
Be aware. Remember your audience and who you're talking to with your posts. This includes prospective students, current students, alumni, donors, current employers and colleagues, peers and other constituents. Consider this before publishing to ensure the post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups.
Own Your Viewpoints. On personal sites, identify your views, opinions, and other comments as your own. If you identify yourself as a Nebraska Methodist College faculty, staff member or student online, make it very clear that your views are yours and not those of Nebraska Methodist College or its affiliates.
Section 6: Response to Comments/Feedback on Social Media
Social media has the opportunity to create positive interactions with students, alumni, healthcare professionals and the community at large. However, there may be instances where an individual or group posts negative comments pertaining to Nebraska Methodist College and its constituents online. This could take place on blogs, social media outlets, aggregate review sites, comments sections on mass media publications, NMC's own internet holdings, and more. This policy is not intended as a means of infringing upon freedom of speech or silencing constructive criticism of the College. NMC is devoted to the concept of free speech, but recognizes that the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and the community may require a response.
NMC takes each online comment made toward or about the College and its constituents seriously. While many such comments can be construed as frivolous, there some comments may inflict actual harm upon the College and members of the community. When a negative or inappropriate comment, review, blog post, or similar communication is posted about the College or its constituents and comes to the attention of the College, NMC will take the following action:
- The employee or student who reads the post initially should not respond.
- The post should be printed and saved for record keeping. This information should include the date and author of the original post.
- The post will be referred to the NMC Marketing Department for immediate review with copy forwarded to the Compliance Director.
- Depending on the sensitivity of the publication, the post may be subject to deletion, the author subject to discipline, or the author will be invited to file a formal complaint.
If the comment is not serious in nature, the NMC Marketing Department will offer the individual or group to file an official complaint. This response may appear as follows:
"We're sorry that you feel that way and we are looking into the situation. If you wish to file a formal complaint with Nebraska Methodist College, please visit https://publicdocs.maxient.com/reportingform.php?MethodistCollege&layout_id=1."
Although this will remain the primary response for the majority of situations that may arise, the NMC Marketing with the assistance of the Compliance Director is given the authority to approach each comment on its own merits so as to be able to adequately respond to the extraordinary nature of some forms of online communication. This may include requests for takedown made to the forum hosting the comment, disciplinary action of the writer if such person falls under the authority of the College and is found to be in violation of College policies, or if the post could be perceived as dangerous, filing a report about the person to the proper authorities (to be done only in situations deemed to pose an actual danger to the College or its constituents) as well as any additional action deemed appropriate to the specific situation being addressed.