Social Media Guidelines and Codes of Conduct

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Elements to Include in New Accounts

When creating new social media accounts, try to include as many of the following elements as possible:

Logo and Graphics Guidelines

  • University logos are reserved for official University business and may not be used to promote non-University activities or imply endorsement.
  • The University Wordmark must never be used on social networking sites or profiles. Instead, the University of Minnesota should be a part of the profile name.
  • Units may use the Block M and Goldy (or other campus mascots) in profile image spaces.

Profile/Account Naming Conventions

  • Use "University of Minnesota" as part of your profile name (On Facebook, use "UMN" in place of "University of Minnesota" due to the platform shutting down pages due to false impersonation accusations).
  • If space constraints exist on a site, use "UMN" as the first letters in the name (e.g., "UMNCSE," "UMN_CSE"). Avoid abbreviating the University's name (U of M, U of MN, etc.), since other universities have the same initials.
  • Use a profile graphic that supports University identification. Download customizable graphics.
  • Never use the University of Minnesota Wordmark in a profile graphic.
  • For questions regarding embedding content, contact University Relations at

Copyright and Intellectual Property

As a reminder, sharing of images, video, audio, and other intellectual property is subject to copyright law. Be sure to evaluate the sources of your content, and attribute appropriately. Best practice: conduct a fair use analysis and keep a record of it.

See the Board of Regents' Copyright policy (PDF), the Copyright Ownership policy, and Copyright Information and Resources on the U of M Libraries site for more information.

Code of Ethics and Common Sense

  • Tell the truth.
  • Write deliberately and accurately.
  • Acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
  • Correct misinformation and/or address negative posts in a respectful manner. (See Social Media Engagement Best Practices).
  • Disclose conflicts of interest.
  • Keep private issues and topics private.
  • Adhere to the Board of Regents Code of Student Conduct (.doc)

Confidentiality and Privacy

Beware of the damages to individuals or the University that can result through inappropriate disclosure of personal or confidential information.

Possible damages:

  • Defamation lawsuit.
  • Copyright, patent, or trademark infringement claims.
  • Privacy or human rights complaint.
  • Workplace grievance under a collective agreement or unfair labor practice complaint.
  • Criminal charges with respect to obscene or hate materials.
  • Damage to the U of M's reputation and business interests.
  • Be aware of laws that may apply to your use of social media.

When photographing an individual for social media purposes, obtain permission for use. Disclose the channels on which you plan to use the photo, and provide your contact information for follow-up purposes.

When posting content from outside entities or media outlets, always try to tag or attribute the content.

Student Education Records and Personal Information

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records such as grades, transcripts, and student identification numbers. For more information, see the Managing Student Records policy.

Be sure to avoid reposting or retweeting any content that would include a student’s identification number, address, or other personal information.

Patients, Research Subjects, Volunteers, and Cadavers

Disclosing confidential patient and research participant Protected Health Information (PHI) is a federal offense. Faculty, staff, students, and affiliated residents and fellows should never publicly make comments about the care of a specific patient, especially online. Even acknowledging the care of a patient is an unacceptable disclosure of PHI.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations apply to comments made on social and online media and violators are subject to the same federal prosecution as with other HIPAA violations.

Patient privacy measures taken on social media and other online media should be the same as those taken in any public forum.

Discussions regarding specific patients, research subjects, volunteers, or cadavers should be avoided, even if all identifying information is excluded. It is always possible that someone could recognize the individual to whom you are referring based upon the context.

Under no circumstances should photos of patients, research subjects, volunteers, or cadavers, including photos depicting any body parts of these individuals, be displayed unless specific written permission to do so has been obtained.

Patient Contact

Interactions with patients within these sites are strongly discouraged.

Do not give medical advice using social media. Direct individuals with health inquiries to an appropriate hospital or clinic patient line.

Private patient information obtained on social media should not be entered in the patient's medical record without the patient's knowledge and consent.

Clinical Settings

Be aware of all related social media policies applicable within specific health care settings.

Refrain from accessing personal social media while at work or in clinical work areas.

Personal Use Guidelines

Per the University of Minnesota Brand Policy: no individual faculty, staff, student, or group comprised of the aforementioned individuals may use any University trademark or the official web template header and footer, or refer to his or her affiliation with the University, in any manner that suggests or implies University support or endorsement of a point of view or personal or political opinion, business, activity, movement, or program that is not official University business.

As such, use of University of Minnesota or UMN in a personal social media profile or username must be used for official University business. Do not use of the University brand or any derivatives within a personal identity or username that has not been created for professional use.

Do not use the University of Minnesota block M, wordmark, Goldy logo, or any other official marks or images on your personal online sites as your avatar, profile pic, or in any manner that would connote that the account is an official University account.

Do not use the University of Minnesota’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause, or political party or candidate.

If you are not representing the University but using social media for personal reasons and identify yourself as a University employee, consider using a disclaimer such as, “Views and opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect that of my employer.”

Related Resources