Appropriate behaviour on social media - Section contents

We all love social media. Most of us use it daily and wouldn’t be without it. We use it to stay in touch, to find new people who share our passions and interests, and even to do our research. Unfortunately, just as in the offline world, it’s possible to hurt others online. You can hurt people by not thinking before you post and you can damage your own reputation in the process.

Here at the University everyone has the right to feel safe: this includes when using social media. We also all have a responsibility to promote safety.

Your responsibilities

You may not know this, but as a student of the University of Melbourne anything you post on your social media channels falls under the University’s Student Conduct Policy (MPF1324).

Whether or not you’re on campus, whether or not your post is directed at another student or staff member, and whether or not it’s actually related to the University in any way doesn’t actually matter. As a University of Melbourne student, you represent the University. The best question to ask yourself is: “Would I say or do this to the person’s face?” If the answer is “no”, then it’s probably not okay online either.

Posts that are rude, offensive, gossip or rumour-spreading, racist, sexist, homophobic, belittling, bullying or harassing, threatening or unwanted by the recipient are not okay. What some people don’t realise is that it’s also not okay to share, ‘like’ or tag other people in posts like this.

‘Liking’ a page just to see what happens there might seem harmless, but gives bullies a voice and can also give friends and prospective employers the impression that you endorse the content. Facebook even shows some of your 'likes' to people who aren't yet connected to you. Give it a pass.

What you can do

First and foremost, do good! Be respectful and be kind. Help create the sort of community on social media that we all want to work, study, live and play in - a community where we look out for one another.

Tips and guidelines

  1. Update the privacy settings on your accounts so that you protect personal information. Don’t automatically save passwords on shared computers or devices.
  2. Respect the privacy of others. Don’t tag them in photos or places, or share their posts, without their permission.
  3. If you see inappropriate social media behaviour, clearly ask for it to stop. If it doesn’t stop, do not engage further. Things you can do in these instances are:
    • Report and block unwanted messages and posts on social media sites.
    • Delete or block the person who is behaving this way
    • Keep evidence of the behaviour (save texts or emails, or take screenshots of social media sites).
    • Get help and support.

Think before you post

What you publish on the internet can remain public for a long time, even if you delete it seconds after you’ve posted. Content can also be replicated and shared beyond the original intended audience and sent to people you never expected to see it, or who may view it out of context.

You should be aware that according to the terms and conditions of some third-party sites, the content you create is the property of the site where it is posted and so may be re-used in ways which you had not intended. Before you post to a social media site you should understand the tool or platform you are using. It is recommended that you read the terms of service and user guides and look through existing content to get an idea of the posting etiquette and any cultural and behavioural norms associated with the social media platform you intend to engage with.

If you’re attending university to give yourself the best chance at a successful career, be aware that a recent study found that a third of job applicants are rejected after web checks by employers.

Where can I go for help?

If social media behaviour is causing you to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, harassed, bullied, or concerned about yourself or someone else, then help is available.

The University’s Safer Community Program is a support, information and referral service for students and staff, and can support you to manage situations like this.

The University’s Social media team also works with platforms such as Facebook to interpret terms and conditions and, where possible, protect our community. The Social Media team can help with technical advice, such as how to report offensive content. Contact social-media@unimelb.edu.au.

University policies and expectations still apply on social media, and the University may take action if the following policies are breached:

Some online behaviours are also criminal offences, so it can be useful to keep records and ask for help.