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UMGC Policy V-1.20

Student Social Media Privacy

Policy Category Policy No. & Title Policy Owner/Administrator Version No. Effective Date Review Cycle Last Reviewed
V Student Affairs *V-1.20 Student Social Media Privacy Policy VP & General Counsel v.3 August 1, 2022 Every 5 years April 17, 2020
  1. Purpose
    This Policy serves as a guide to ensure compliance with the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 26-401. It applies to all University faculty, staff, and students, and helps protect the privacy rights of students. This Policy recognizes that the use of Social Media by University employees plays a valuable and appropriate role in academic and career-based activities to the benefit of students. The purpose of this Policy is to set forth appropriate rules to protect student privacy that comply with state and federal law while permitting the use of Social Media for academic and career-based activities. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of each University employee to ensure they are in compliance. Individuals who violate any state or federal laws may be subject to civil liability.
  2. Definitions
    1. “Non-Public Access Information” refers to the security information required to access a Social Media account. Examples include: passwords, log-in information or other private and confidential information required to gain access to a Social Media account.
    2. “Personal Social Media Account” refers to a Social Media account that allows social interaction and dissemination of information to others, created and maintained by a student, prospective student, or applicant, in whole or in part, for private use. It does not include:
      1. an account on a social media platform owned or provided by an educational institution; or
      2. an account on a social media platform created by a student, prospective student, or applicant specifically for academic or University-assisted career-based activities.
    3. “Social Media” are internet-based applications that enable users to participate in social networking by exchanging content with other users. Examples of Social Media include, but are not limited to: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr.
  3. Social Media Privacy Rules
    1. University employees shall not require, request, suggest, or cause a student, prospective student, or applicant to disclose, grant access to, or allow observation of Non-Public Access Information pertaining to any Social Media account.
    2. University employees shall not require that a student, prospective student, or applicant change the privacy settings on a Personal Social Media Account.
    3. University employees shall not require a student, prospective student, or applicant to designate a University employee of the University as a “friend,” a “follower,” or any other designation that would afford the employee or agent access to a Personal Social Media Account, or its associated content that is not publicly available.
    4. University employees shall not require a student, prospective student, or applicant to log onto any Social Media account in the presence of a University employee or agent of the institution.
    5. University employees shall not require that students, prospective students, or applicants provide names of the Social Media platforms that they employ.
    6. University employees shall not suspend, expel, discipline, penalize, or threaten to take any of the aforementioned actions against any students, prospective student, or applicant for refusing to provide information in response to a request that is prohibited under Section III of this Policy.
  4. Limitations
    This Policy does not prohibit the following activities:
    1. University employees may require a student to provide access to a Social Media account provided that:
      1. Students have the option, at their own election, to complete the assignment or activity by using an existing Personal Social Media Account or by creating a generic Social Media account;
      2. Students are not obligated to violate the terms of service of any Social Media account;
      3. Access is limited to the academic or career-based activity;
      4. Students are not asked to provide Non-Public Access Information; and
      5. The academic or career-based activity is designed and administered in a manner that is consistent with UMGC’s Privacy Policy and UMGC Policy 210.14 on Disclosure of Student Records.
    2. University employees are encouraged to obtain unit-level approval before instituting academic or career-based activities involving student Social Media accounts. In addition, University employees are encouraged to provide notice to students, in syllabi or other relevant written publications, when use of such accounts is required.
    3. University employees may access Personal Social Media Account content, which does not include Non-Public Access Information, that has been voluntarily provided to them by a student, prospective student, applicant, or third party.
    4. University employees may view publicly accessible content relating to a student, prospective student, or applicant’s Personal Social Media Account.
  5. Complaints
    1. Students may report violations of this Policy to Student Resolution and Judicial Affairs (“SRJA”) at resolution.management@umgc.edu.   
    2. Employees shall report violations of this Policy to Employee Relations with the Office of Human Resources at hrer@umgc.edu.
    3. Both SRJA and Employee Relations shall consult with the University’s Data Protection Officer regarding any reports of alleged Policy violations. 
    4. UMGC employees who violate this Policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Related Policies and Procedures

USM Policy 1.20 Policy On Student Social Media Privacy              

*formerly Policy 176.00