Operation of Official Social Media Accounts and Student/Employee Social Media Conduct

SP 3-125f

APPROVED: April 20, 2011
EFFECTIVE: April 20, 2011


/ Nancy J. McCallin /
Nancy J. McCallin, Ph.D.
System President


The procedure applies to all employees and students within the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).


The use of social media websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube) is increasingly common for the departments, students and employees of CCCS Colleges and the system office, and these communication tools have the potential to create a significant impact on organizational/professional reputations and public affairs effectiveness.

This procedure requires each college to adopt an institutional social media procedure that meets the parameters specified by this procedure by August 15, 2011. Prior to adoption, each procedure should be submitted to the CCCS System Communications office. The System Communications office will collaborate with CCCS legal staff to review each college procedure to evaluate whether each, from the system’s perspective, raises any concerns which may need to be addressed. This process will also facilitate the sharing of best practices among the colleges.


Poster or User: A person submitting content to any social media site that is officially recognized by the college.

Intellectual Property: Someone’s idea, invention, creation, etc., which can be protected by law from being copied by someone else.

Social Media: Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform how people communicate with one another and receive news, information and entertainment. Social media has transformed people from content consumers to content producers. Types of social media include networks like Facebook and YouTube but also include blogs and podcasts.

Social Media Accounts: These are accounts or profiles created in social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn.
Social Media Terms and Conditions: The terms and conditions imposed by the social media website in which the user is participating.


College social media procedures should be written to address the following parameters:

  • Officially-recognized college social media accounts and web pages will be reviewed and approved through an application process.
  • Each officially-approved account must include a disclaimer statement articulating that content and opinions contained on the site do not necessarily represent those of the college.
  • Inappropriate, offensive, injurious and illegal content may be removed by college employees identified as account administrators or at the direction of college/system management.
  • All official social media accounts must have more than one employee assigned to the role of administrator at all times.
  • Should a college employee administrator of an account leave the college for any reason or no longer wishes to be an account administrator, it is their department/division’s responsibility to designate another college employee to be an account administrator and remove the former employee’s administrative permission to the site.

To accomplish this guideline with Facebook, departments/divisions/groups at other colleges have used a generic e-mail account (e.g., to create new pages. By creating the page, the account based on the generic e-mail is the “owner” of the page. The staff member with the password to this “owner” account may be designated by the department/division/group associated with the page. Using this “owner” account, this designee may assign “admin rights” to whoever is going to contribute content. This contributor can then give “admins rights” to other contributors as necessary/appropriate. If a contributor leaves the college, the generic account, controlled by the division-designee, has the trump card of “ownership” and can modify the page’s user list (including removing that contributor’s rights to contribute). If the designee controlling the “owner-account” leaves the college, another department/division designee can change the password to the generic account that “owns” the page.

  • While faculty are not prohibited from having students use social media to learn about it, faculty must use CCCS’ official learning management system (e.g., Desire 2 Learn) instead of social media sites for facilitating coursework and teaching.
  • College employees are expected to adhere to same standards of conduct online as they would in the workplace. Laws and procedures respecting contracting and conflict of interest, as well as applicable policies and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media and all other college constituents apply online and in the social media context just as they do in personal interactions. Employees are fully responsible for what they post to social media sites.
  • College employees are expected to use good judgment about content and respect privacy laws. They should not: include confidential information about the college, its staff, or its students; post content that is threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal; represent personal opinions as being endorsed by the CCCS, the college or any of their organizations as this is strictly prohibited. The college’s name or marks may not be used to endorse any opinion, product, private business, cause, or political candidate.
  • Students are expected to adhere to the Student Code of Conduct.
  • By posting content to any social media site, the poster represents that the poster owns or otherwise has all of the rights necessary to lawfully use that content or that the use of the content is permitted by fair use. Posters also agree that they will not knowingly provide misleading or false information, and that they will indemnify and hold CCCS and the college harmless for any claims resulting from the content.
  • CCCS and each college shall have the right to remove or cause the removal of any content for any lawful reason, including but not limited to, content that it deems threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal.
  • Employees should refrain from using information and conducting activities that may violate local, state, or federal laws and regulations. If you are unsure whether certain content is protected by privacy or intellectual property laws, contact CCCS’ legal staff.
  • If one maintains their own personal social media accounts, they should avoid creating confusion over whether or not the account is associated with their college. This includes using personal accounts to act in an official capacity on a non-college approved site. If one identifies themselves as a college faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed on their site are not those of the college and they are not acting in their capacity as a college employee. While not a requirement, college employees may consider adding the following disclaimer to personal social media accounts. “While I am an employee at [COLLEGE], comments made on this account are my own and not that of the college.
  • College employees wishing to establish a social media destination (e.g., Facebook page, You Tube channel, etc.) that is tied to the college-related endeavors of themselves or others affiliated with the college shall be subject to college’s application process and procedures governing social media.
  • Faculty should be encouraged to consider the ethical ramifications of their interactions with students on social media sites.
  • Social media users acting on behalf of their college must adhere to all State Board Policies, System President’s Procedures, and college procedures, including those pertaining to: acceptable use; copyright information; IT security; personal records privacy and security; FERPA/privacy policies; faculty/staff/student codes of conduct; and, procurement rules.
  • To prevent college Facebook pages from being “hacked,” account administrators should go into the Facebook account settings and check the box for “secure browsing” that may be found in the “Account Security” section.
  • Use of Social Media Sites for the Placement of Advertising: The college procedure should specify that it does not authorize employees, outside of the college’s marketing office, to enter into advertising agreements with social media sites.
  • Facebook Accounts Only: Colleges need to require that any of their official Facebook pages must have prominently displayed language directing the public to their official website.

Application of Each College-specific Procedure

Each college procedure will apply to social media accounts created by college employees for the official business purposes of the college, including college faculty, groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. It will therefore impact students, faculty, and staff who utilize various social media for communication in conjunction with representing their college. Some examples of the various communication media that shall be included under each college procedure are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube.


This procedure will apply only to social media accounts created for the express purpose of officially representing their college’s groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. and will not apply to private social media accounts. College employees acting in an individual capacity should exercise caution to communicate clearly that they are not acting in a representative capacity, or expressing the views of the College.

Consequences for Violation

Violations of this procedure may result in disciplinary action in accordance with applicable employee/student conduct policies and may include any appropriate legal action.


System and college administrators and their authorized employees may monitor the operation of college-authorized social media accounts and the conduct of employees/students in using them to help ensure conformance with this policy. Administrators reserve the right to examine, use, and disclose any content found on official social media websites in order to further the health, safety, discipline, or security of any student or other person, or to protect property.

Appendix A

CCCS System Office Media and Social Media Guidelines

View the CCCS System Office Media and Social Media Guidelines.