Policies of Colorado State University

University Policy

University Seal
Policy Title: Social Media Category: Information Technology
Owner: Vice President for University Communications Policy ID#: 4-0150-001
Vice President for University Communications
Web: https://universitycommunications.colostate.edu/
Phone: (970) 491-6432
Original Effective Date: 1/6/2011
Last Revision: 6/30/2016


Colorado State University supports the need for a strong presence in the social media realm. The University encourages colleges, departments, programs, groups, and entities to be active in the social space and create social media accounts to build enriching relationships.

Colorado State has developed a social media policy and application process to ensure that any and all interactions on behalf of CSU represent the University’s best interests.

All social media accounts recognized by Colorado State University will be listed on the CSU Social Media website (https://socialmedia.colostate.edu/social-media-directory/). Check back often to see who is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, Vine, YouTube and more.


This policy will apply to social media accounts created by University employees for the official business purposes of the University, including Colorado State University faculty, groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. It will therefore impact students, faculty, and staff who utilize various social media for communication in conjunction with representing Colorado State University. Some examples of the various communication media included under this policy are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube. External Relations’ Social Media Policy Staff has been established to assist in the campus-wide implementation of this new policy.

All officially-recognized social media accounts will be publicly listed by the University in a directory on the CSU social media website.

Student organizations that wish to create social media accounts that will be officially recognized by the University must be registered through CSU's Office of Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE).


This policy will apply only to social media accounts created for the express purpose of officially representing Colorado State University groups, departments, programs, entities, etc. and will not apply to private social media accounts. University employees acting in an individual capacity should exercise caution to communicate clearly that they are not acting in a representative capacity, or expressing the views of the University.


Poster or User: A person submitting content to any social media site that is officially recognized by CSU.

Social Media: Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media uses Internet and web-based technologies to transform how people communicate with one another and receive news, information and entertainment. Social media has transformed people from content consumers to content producers. Types of social media include networks like Facebook and YouTube but also include blogs and podcasts.

Social Media Accounts: These are accounts or profiles created in social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

Social Media Best Practices: These consist of widely recognized guidelines, ethical considerations, and conventions for creating successful social media campaigns and accounts.

Social Media Policy Staff: Members of the policy staff are from the Division of External Relations. The purpose of the policy staff is to help CSU departments create, manage and succeed in using social media outlets to further their academic mission. The Social Media Policy Staff will identify individuals and groups that currently manage social media accounts for CSU entities, advise them on the policy, and encourage those who have not done so to apply for official recognition status. The policy staff will provide occasional training sessions regarding social media use and its role at Colorado State University.

Social Media Terms and Conditions: The terms and conditions imposed by the social media website in which the User is participating.

University’s best interest: To represent the University in a fair, accurate and legal manner while protecting the brand and reputation of the institution.


The use of social media websites is increasingly common for University departments, students and employees, and these communications tools have the potential to create a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. Colorado State University has developed a policy to properly portray, promote and protect the institution and to assist CSU entities in creating and managing their social media accounts. The following policy also provides suggestions on how to protect personal and professional reputations while using social media. This policy requires that:

  1. Officially-recognized CSU social media accounts and web pages be reviewed and approved through an application process.
  2. Each social media account will have responsible administrators assigned.
  3. Each officially-approved account must include a disclaimer statement, in the prescribed form, regarding content and opinions contained on the site.
  4. Inappropriate, offensive, injurious and illegal content may be removed by CSU employees identified as account administrators or at the direction of the Social Media Policy Staff.
  5. Best practices for social media accounts should be considered.


Use of Social Media Sites for General Business, Marketing and Communications

The Vice President for External Relations will be responsible for administering this policy.

The Social Media Policy Staff has been established to provide input and assist in University outreach and training on this policy and best practices. The Social Media Policy Staff will manage the day-to-day application process and update the https://socialmedia.colostate.edu/ web page and account directory as needed. 

Administrators may contact CSU's Social Media Policy Staff at any time for consultation. 

The following requirements apply to all University Social Media accounts:
  1. All applicants for officially-recognized social media accounts are required to submit the profile image/avatar of each account as part of the application process to ensure that CSU's branding standards set forth in Our Brand are upheld.
  2. All social media accounts officially recognized by CSU must have at least two CSU employees as administrators at all times to ensure adherence to this policy.
  3. Should a CSU employee administrator of an account leave the University for any reason or no longer wishes to be an account administrator, it is the academic or administrative department’s responsibility to designate another CSU employee to be an account administrator and remove the former employee’s administrative permissions to the site. Whenever possible, a department should appoint two individuals to act concurrently as account administrators for a social media site representing CSU.
  4. If there are not two employees available to serve as account administrators, a member of the CSU Social Media Policy Staff may serve in that capacity.
  5. If there are any problems identifying a new administrator, contact the CSU Social Media Policy Staff.
  6. CSU employees identified as administrators of accounts are responsible for managing and monitoring content of their social media accounts. Administrators are responsible to remove content that may violate the University Conduct Policies or the Social Media Terms and Conditions.
Guidelines for Content:
  1. CSU employees are expected to adhere to same standards of conduct online as they would in the workplace. Laws and policies respecting workplace conduct, contracting and conflict of interest, as well as applicable policies and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media and all other University constituents apply online and in the social media context just as they do in personal interactions. Employees are fully responsible for what they post to social media sites.
  2. Use good judgment about content and respect privacy laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Do not include confidential information about the University, its staff, or its students in materials posted on social media sites. Examples include information about a student’s grades or performance, admission status, GPA, Social Security number, and any/all other information that would be covered by FERPA; personally identifiable health information such as medical conditions or injuries or healthcare sought or received; and other private personal information that the person has not consented to have published. The university will not ask for, nor should an individual send, credit card or payment information, classified information, privileged information, private information or information subject to non-disclosure agreements via any social network internet communication service.
  3. Social media posters must also be aware of NCAA rules governing interactions between the institution and its employees, and prospective student-athletes. All employees should refrain from contacting (Tweeting, messaging, friending on Facebook) prospective student-athletes prior to signing a National Letter of Intent. Always check with the Department of Athletics’ compliance officials before posting anything that may violate these rules.
  4. Post only content that is not threatening, obscene, a violation of copyright or other intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal. If you are unsure whether certain content is protected by privacy or intellectual property laws, contact CSU’s Contracting Services or the Office of General Counsel.
  5. Representation of your personal opinions as being endorsed by the University or any of its organizations is strictly prohibited. CSU’s name or marks may not be used to endorse any opinion, product, private business, cause, or political candidate.
  6. By posting content to any social media site, the poster represents that the poster owns or otherwise has all of the rights necessary to lawfully use that content or that the use of the content is permitted by fair use. Posters also agree that they will not knowingly provide misleading or false information, and that they will indemnify and hold the University harmless for any claims resulting from the content.
  7. While CSU is committed to the protection of academic freedom, and it does not regularly review content posted to social media sites, it shall have the right to do so, and, with respect to any site maintained in the name of the University, may remove or cause the removal of any content for any lawful reason, including but not limited to, content that it deems threatening, obscene, a violation of intellectual property rights or privacy laws, or otherwise injurious or illegal.
  8. When using or posting online material that includes direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos, or videos, always include citations. Provide a link to the original material if applicable.
  9. If you also maintain your own personal social media accounts, you should avoid creating confusion over whether or not the account is associated with CSU. If you identify yourself as a Colorado State University faculty or staff member online, it should be clear that the views expressed on your site are not those of the University and you are not acting in your capacity as a CSU employee. While not a requirement, CSU employees may consider adding the following disclaimer to personal social media accounts. “While I am an employee at Colorado State University, comments made on this account are my own and not that of the University.”

User Agreements for Social Media Accounts

Whenever a social media account is created, the social media outlet requires the account creator to agree to certain terms and conditions for use of the site by clicking “Yes” or “I accept” as part of the account creation process. These are legal contracts, and they often contain terms and conditions that create risks for the account creator and the University (for officially-recognized CSU accounts). In view of this, CSU has adopted this policy to manage these so-called “clickwrap agreements” and mitigate the risks they create. Account administrators are delegated authority to create official social media accounts through completion of the application process and approval by Social Media Policy Staff. The Social Media Policy Staff will request legal and/or administrative approvals prior to approving applications when required.

University employees and departments are not authorized to enter into advertising agreements with social media sites without prior authorization and approval obtained by contacting the Procurement Services Department. Any CSU unit wishing to purchase advertising services from social media sites, or from any type of publication, must follow all applicable rules and policies governing both the public relations considerations and the procurement and contracting considerations related to such services.


Social media users acting on behalf of the University must adhere to all CSU policies and procedures, including:


Our Brand: Our Brand provides a set of standards to be used by University communicators to build a consistent, clear, and positive image of the University in the minds of constituents. It includes detailed information on the brand, use of the logo, colors, and typography. https://brand.colostate.edu/

Graphic Standards: https://creativeservices.colostate.edu/brand-style-guide/

Technology-related Standards, Guidelines, and Policies: http://www.acns.colostate.edu/?page=policies

Social Media Application: https://socialmedia.colostate.edu/application/


Approved by Anthony L. Frank, President, January 6, 2011

Approved by Amy L. Parsons, Vice President for University Operations, June 22, 2015