Social Media Guidelines

Social Media

Introduction

  1. Social media are powerful communications tools that have a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. The University of Arkansas (“University”) has established the following guidelines are used to clarify how best to enhance and protect the University when participating in social media while conducting a search or hiring to fill a position.
  2. As a general matter, the same policies and expectations that apply to a person’s interactions or traditional communications also apply to her or his interactions with the online community.
  3. The guidelines are subject to all other applicable policies of the University of Arkansas. 

Entities Affected

  1.  The guidelines apply to all employees, units, and affiliates of the University who are involved in conducting a search or hiring to fill a position.

Definition

  1. “Social Media” includes websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.  Examples include, but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Flikr, SnapChat, Yik Yak, iTunes U, and Google+. 

Use of Social Media Sites

  1. Hiring managers or search committee members shall not view the social media profiles of actual or potential employment applicants for the purpose of becoming aware of protected information including, but not limited to, applicants’ age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, genetic information, and religion.
  2. Never ask for an applicant’s social media usernames or passwords.  Hiring managers or search committee members shall not view any applicant’s social media materials that are not available to the general public. Applicants shall not be asked to change their privacy settings during the hiring process or to “add” University faculty/staff to their social media contacts as part of the hiring process.
  3. Social media may be used to fact-check any statement made by an applicant.
  4. During the hiring process, hiring managers or search committee members may review publicly available social media pages of candidates in order to discern information for the purpose of further vetting applicants.  Generally, hiring managers or search committees may consider information that is materially inconsistent with responsible professional conduct or that might be materially harmful to the educational mission or reputation of the University.  Examples of what hiring managers or search committees may consider include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Whether social media illustrates that the candidate has lied on his or her job application or resume
    • Whether the candidate is, or was previously, clearly engaged in illegal activity
    • Whether the candidate has a history of violent behavior
    • Whether the candidate engages in the use of illegal drugs
    • Whether the candidate exhibits a specific bias against a protected class of people (e.g. Facebook page of candidate contains posts by candidate that exhibit clear bias against a certain ethnic or religious group)
    • Whether the candidate exhibits behavior that is inconsistent with the responsibilities of the position (e.g., Facebook page of candidate for faculty position that shows recent pictures of candidate doing keg stands at a student party or smoking marijuana with students would demonstrate a lack of discretion in interactions with college students)
    • The age of any material posted online (e.g., material posted many years ago, prior to a successful professional record, may be less relevant to the consideration of the candidate)
    • As a best practice, hiring managers or search committees are encouraged to use a consistent approach with regard to use of social media information in the course of the search process and to maintain screenshots or a similar written record of material which factors significantly into a decision whether to interview or hire an individual.