Social Media Policy

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Use of Social Media by School of Nursing Students and Employees

While social media allows the University to reach many audiences including faculty, staff and students, use of social media by School of Nursing faculty, staff and students presents special concerns for privacy and confidentiality. The general use of social media by SON faculty, staff and students is not affected by the following policy;1 its use related to confidential information about the School (including the faculty, staff and students), patients or SON-clinical affiliates (agencies with which the SON has entered a contractual relationship to provide clinical experience opportunities for students) is notably restricted.

Social media are defined as, but not limited, to web-based or mobile technologies used for interactive communication. Examples of social media include but are not limited to collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia), biogs and microblogs (e.g.,Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds {e.g., Second Life). Regardless of how these forms of media are used, employees and students are responsible for the content they post or promote. Content contributed on these platforms is immediately searchable and shareable, regardless of whether that is the intention of the contributor. Once posted online, the content leaves the contributing individual’s control forever and may be traced back to the individual in perpetuity.


Official SON electronic communication regarding academic classes or academic schedules will occur through School-sanctioned channels, e.g., UNC­ Chapel Hill email, listservs, Blackboard, Sakai, and UNC-CH websites.  Electronic communications outside these channels are not endorsed for academic courses.

Social Media

SON students and employees are prohibited from disclosing through social media the following:

  • Protected Health Information, as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – For example, individuals may not disclose patient names or otherwise refer to patients in any way that identifies them individually, including by their initials or by their location (e.g.,hospital name or unit).
  • Education Record Information, as defined by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – Employees may not disclose FERPA­ protected information regarding
  • Confidential Personnel Information, as defined by the State Personnel Act – Employees may not disclose confidential personnel information regarding other
  • Confidential, non-public or proprietary information about
    • Families, clinical facility staff or clinical institutions;
    • The School, its employees and students;
  • Copyrighted or intellectual property belonging to the
  • Comments that express or imply sponsorship or endorsement by the School or the University, unless you are officially authorized to act in this capacity for this purpose on behalf of the University or the

Accordingly, the use of social media for clinical discussions that include any identifiable information related to patients or SON-affiliated clinical facilities is prohibited.

If a faculty member or student identifies themselves as such online (e.g.,list affiliation with the School in their Facebook profile), a disclaimer should be added that any opinions or views expressed do not represent the opinions of the School of Nursing or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Students in violation of this policy may be considered as having violated the UNC-CH Honor Code. However, like faculty and staff who violate this policy, students may face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

A PDF copy of this policy can be found here.

Related references

1 Other than any issues related to  HIPAA,  FERPA  and other sensitive  information as noted at, all of which remain prohibited disclosures, even in personal (social media or otherwise) communications.

Approved by SON Faculty: 040912