The purpose of these guidelines is to help Duke communicators understand how Duke policies apply to new communications technologies such as blogs and social networking sites, and to guide them in using new social media platforms. The guidelines apply to material that Duke communications offices and related units publish on Duke-hosted websites and related Duke sites such as those on YouTube and Facebook. Any questions about these guidelines should be directed to socialmedia@duke.edu. Duke Medicine employees should refer to the specific Web standards andFacebook guidelines established for DukeHealth.org sites.



Blogs, social networks and websites such as Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube are exciting new channels for Duke communicators and their colleagues to share knowledge and connect with key audiences, including students and others who may not consume traditional media as frequently as others. Duke supports this kind of participation in online communities and maintains its strong commitment to academic freedom in these channels. Because social media channels are fairly new and evolving every day, these guidelines were adapted from respected online and industry sources to provide guidance in using these forums effectively, protecting personal and professional reputation and following university policies.



Duke units and departments have wide latitude to create and maintain a presence on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. They should do so in ways that are professional, technically secure and transparent. Units and departments are responsible for ensuring that content posted by, or on behalf of, any unit or department adheres to all Duke University policies and to appropriate laws that govern the dissemination of public information. To that end, units and departments should periodically review the guidelines for social media established by the Office of News and Communications and consult with ONC if they have questions about their implementation:

Understand your strategy. Social media efforts should be part of a larger communications strategy. Know what you’re trying to accomplish, and why. Who is your audience? What do you want them to do? Is social media the best way to do this?

Follow all applicable Duke University policies. For example, you must not share confidential or proprietary information about Duke University. Among the policies most pertinent to this discussion are those concerninggovernment affairs (PDF), mutual respectcomputer, e-mail & Internet use and student financial aid.

Everything is public. There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up your posts years later. Don’t post something today that may haunt you later.

Be respectful. If readers see your affiliation with Duke, they may read your words as representing the university, even if you provide a disclaimer saying your views are your own. As a general rule, be respectful and don’t post anything you would be uncomfortable saying in a public setting. Follow the Duke Guiding Principles and the Duke Community Standard.

Be transparent about your role at Duke. If you participate in or maintain a social media site on behalf of the university, clearly state your role and goals. Strive for accuracy, correcting errors quickly and visibly. If you have questions about whether it is appropriate to write about certain material, ask your supervisor first.

Maintain confidentiality. Do not post confidential, proprietary or protected health information about students, employees, patients or other members of the Duke community. Use good ethical judgment. All federal guidelines such as FERPAHIPAA and university policies such as the Duke Confidentiality Agreement must be observed on Duke-sponsored or Duke-maintained social media sites.

Protect your identity. Don’t provide personal information about yourself or others that scam artists and identity thieves might steal.

Moderate comments and discussions. By their nature, social networking sites are participatory and involve sharing among multiple users. However, it is important to monitor live discussions for off-topic or abusive comments. Whenever possible, moderate comments and be transparent about doing so by including language similar to the comments policy on Duke University’s Facebook Page.

Respect university time and property. As stated in Duke’s “Computing and Networking: Acceptable Use” policy, university computers and work time are to be used for university-related business. It’s appropriate to post at work if your comments are directly related to accomplishing work goals, but maintain your personal site on your own time using non-Duke computers.