CSU Policy: Social Media

Policy Title: Social Media Category: Information Technology
Owner: Vice President for University Marketing and Communications Policy ID#: 4-0150-001
Vice President for University Marketing and Communications
Web: https://marcomm.colostate.edu/
Email: news@colostate.edu
Original Effective Date: 1/6/2011
Last Revision: 8/3/2021
Print Version: Click Here to Print


The use of social media is increasingly common for university departments, students and employees, and these communication tools have the potential to create a significant impact on organizational and professional reputations. The purpose of this policy and its related application process is to ensure that any and all social media interactions on behalf of CSU represent the University’s best interests, and that individuals who speak on behalf of the University have the authority and approval to do so under the circumstances.


This policy applies to all social media accounts created by University employees and agents for the official business purposes of the University, including Colorado State University faculty, staff, student employees or students with university authorization, and to all CSU departments and programs, and this policy applies to the use of those social media accounts by faculty, staff, student employees or students with university authorization, and to all CSU departments and programs.


This policy applies only to social media accounts and the use of social media accounts created for the purpose of officially representing Colorado State University and its constituent groups, departments, programs, and entities and not to individuals’ 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. See Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual, section D.3.3. Importantly, University employees are not acting in their individual capacity when they are using University social media accounts within the scope of their employment duties.


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.  Social media outlets and platforms can arise and become popular quickly and have varying lifespans.

Social Media Accounts: These are accounts or profiles created in social media outlets. While new social media outlets arise frequently while others disappear, some examples include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, 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 Marketing and Communications . 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.


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.

CSU has developed this policy to help social media posters properly portray, promote, and protect the institution and to assist CSU entities in creating and managing their social media accounts. The policy also provides suggestions on how to protect personal and professional reputations while using social media. This policy requires that:

  1. All CSU social media accounts, whether existing or subsequently created, are subject to this policy, and all such CSU social media accounts must go through the process set forth in this policy for an official review in order to be officially recognized by the university.  This policy applies to all CSU social media accounts whether or not they completed this official review process.
  2. Officially recognized CSU social media accounts and web pages be reviewed and approved through an application process managed by the Division of Marketing and Communications. 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. Unauthorized, injurious, and illegal content that does not comply with this policy or the Social Media Terms and Conditions 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.


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

The Vice President for Marketing and Communications 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 web page and account directory as needed. 

Administrators may contact CSU's Social Media Policy Staff or visit their blog, Social, 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 the Brand Guidelines are upheld.
  2. All social media accounts officially recognized by CSU must have at least two CSU employees as administrators at all times. 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. If there are any problems identifying a new administrator, contact the CSU Social Media Policy Staff.
  3. If an account administrator leaves their position or 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 by changing login credentials.
  4. Account administrators are responsible for managing and monitoring content of their social media accounts and for removing content that may violate this policy, university conduct policies, or the Social Media Terms and Conditions. They are also responsible for maintaining account security by using different passwords for each account, keeping passwords safe and not sharing them, changing passwords regularly (once a month is recommended), and immediately reporting any account being hacked or compromised to Social Media Policy Staff.
  5. All officially recognized social media accounts will be publicly listed by the University in a directory on the CSU social media website.
  6. 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).

2.  Guidelines for Content

  1. The University reaffirms its commitment to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Accordingly, this policy is consistent with and subject to the First Amendment’s protection of speech and expression. Importantly, the university’s use of its social media accounts, which have been created for the purpose of officially representing Colorado State University and its constituent groups, departments, and programs, constitutes the University’s exercise of its speech and expression and this policy governs such University speech.
  2. 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 others 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.
  3. 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, or other information covered by CSU’s FERPA policy; 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. For further guidance, see the CSU Policy on Information Collection and Personal Records Privacy.
  4. 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 (e.g., 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.
  5. Post only content that is in compliance with University policy and Social Media Terms and Conditions and is not threatening, obscene, defamatory, retaliatory, or otherwise injurious or illegal.
  6. 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.
  7. Posters must comply with copyright and other intellectual property laws. 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. If you are unsure whether certain content is protected by privacy or intellectual property laws, contact the Office of General Counsel. 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.
  8. While CSU is committed to the protection of academic freedom, and it does not regularly review content posted to social media sites, it has 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, a violation of this policy or other University policy, a violation of the Social Media Terms and Conditions, or otherwise injurious or illegal, as outlined in CSU’s Comment Guidelines.
  9. Social media accounts are only useful when their content is regularly updated. Account administrators should work with their content providers to assure that content remains current and useful and that comments and questions posted by others to the account are responded to in a timely fashion.
  10. Content appearing on social media accounts must be archived to comply with all applicable state law and university policies related to public records access, retention and disposition.
  11. 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.
  12. If you also maintain your own personal social media accounts, you should avoid creating confusion over whether the account is associated with CSU. If you identify yourself as a CSU 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.”
  13. Do not post content relating to emergencies, university closures, or dangerous situations affecting the university community, except by resharing messages from the University’s Public Safety Team/CSU Police Department or from the official CSU flagship social media accounts. If you have information about an emergency, contact CSU Police by calling 911 or, if there is no imminent threat or crime in progress, (970) 491-6425.

3.  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.


Compliance with this policy is required. For assistance with interpretation or application of this policy, contact the office of the Vice President for Marketing and Communications. 


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

Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual section D.3.3.

CSU Policy: Acceptable Use for Computing and Networking

Copyright information

CSU Policy: IT Security

CSU Policy: Information Collection and Personal Records Privacy

CSU Privacy Statement

Information on Accessibility of Electronic Media

CSU Brand Website

CSU Policy: FERPA 

CSU Student Conduct Code 

CSU Social Media Comment Guidelines


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

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

Approved by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations, on August 3, 2021



Print Version: Click Here to Print

csu ramhead logo

The CSU Policy Library is maintained by the University Policy Office