Standards of Conduct

Stanislaus State employees and representatives are expected to adhere to the same standards of conduct online as they would in the workplace. Laws, policies and guidelines for interacting with students, parents, alumni, donors, media and all other University constituents apply to online interactions and in a social media context just as they do in personal interactions. Employees are fully responsible for what they post to social media sites. Employees may choose to indicate on their personal social media accounts that the views expressed are their own and do not represent the views or opinions of Stanislaus State.

Administrators and users of official Stan State social media accounts and sites may at any time contact the Office of Strategic Communications & Marketing for guidance and consultation.

Content should be developed and curated with guidance from your manager and reflect good professional judgment.

Any applicable employee policies and procedures should be followed in managing University social media content.

If you use social media as an individual, it is best practice to keep your personal and professional social media content separate.


Confidential Information

All University social media posts and content are governed by applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to, FERPA, HIPAA, California medical privacy laws, NCAA regulations and University regulations and policies.

Students’ education records must be protected as required by The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). This is a federal law protecting the privacy of student education records. Information pertaining to an applicant, current student or former student must not be placed on a social media site without the review and approval of the campus FERPA officer for compliance.

Medical information is protected from public disclosure under both state and federal privacy laws and must not be disclosed on a social media site without the express prior written permission from the person about whom the medical information pertains, including disclosures pertaining to the medical condition or injuries of student athletes.  

Social media is also an area where common practices can impact an institution with respect to NCAA regulations, particularly regarding prospective student-athletes. The Stanislaus State Athletics Office of Compliance for our athletics program must be consulted in advance to ensure compliance with NCAA rules and regulations. For example, a post about a prospective student-athlete the University is recruiting for basketball or a post involving a current student-athlete endorsing a product or service outside of the University are not allowed under NCAA rules. Please refer to the Stanislaus State Athletics Office of Compliance for more information.

Network Use Policy

The University acknowledges that access to the network is a necessity for faculty, staff and students of Stanislaus State. While not providing guarantees of availability, Stanislaus State has the stated objective of providing access to both on-campus and offsite network resources for the groups identified above. Please view the full Stanislaus State Network Use Policy.

Free Speech

As a member of the California State University, social media accounts managed and coordinated on behalf of Stanislaus State are considered CSU-sponsored platforms. A CSU-sponsored platform is a government forum, and the same freedoms apply to government social media as other government fora. Content-based censorship must be avoided. If members of the campus community or the public request removal of offensive posts, don’t do it!

As an owner of a CSU-sponsored platform, you: 

  • Cannot block a user (if there is a perceived need to block, consult with Strategic Communications & Marketing first).
  • Cannot remove offensive language unless truly unprotected (e.g., threat or severe harassment).
  • Cannot moderate content even if any reasonable person would find the post offensive.
  • Cannot delete or block keywords.

Unprotected Speech  

Courts have made clear that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, and that no one has a right not to be offended by speech. Most “hate speech” is as fully protected as any other form of protected speech. 

However, some types of speech are not protected by the First Amendment and may be regulated. They include:

Incitement of violence or harm

  • Speech that advocates for the use of force is not protected when it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and is “likely to incite or produce such action.”
  • Must be specific, imminent and likely.

Fighting words

  • Words that “by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace.” Often associated with disorderly conduct.

True Threats

  • Exists where a reasonable person would view it as a serious intent to harm and there is the prospect of immediate execution. For example, a statement by someone in an airport that they are going to bomb the plane they are getting on.


  • Defamatory speech damages a person’s good name, character or reputation.
  • Generally, it is not for the campus to make this determination.


  • Patently offensive in light of community standards, and lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
  • Sexual expression that is indecent but not obscene is protected.

Severe harassment

  • Must be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive. Undermines and detracts from the victims’ educational experience so that they are effectively denied equal access to an institution’s resources and opportunities.
  • Offense and disruption are not enough.

False advertising

  • Untrue or misleading publications concerning the performance of property or services. 
  • Not for campus to determine. 

The use of public resources for partisan politics

  •  CSU and employees may not use public funds to promote partisan positions in election campaigns.  
  •  State resources are implicated whenever any state property or asset is used (telephones, employee time, computers, etc.) 

Permissible Responses

  • Can notify the platform host of content that violates its guidelines  
  • Can release campus message/post/comment to address the impact of the offensive speech  
  • If forum has been expressly limited ahead of time with clear guidelines, can remove off-topic posts  
  • Even if a post does not rise to the level of a threat or severe harassment, the campus can have a dialogue with the student or employee  
  • Where it is not clear whether the post is a true threat, can still report it to law enforcement and let them decide

When in doubt, contact Strategic Communications & Marketing

No Endorsements

University social media sites must not be used to endorse third-party products, services and entities. Please refer to the California State University Contracts and Procurement Policy's Fair and Prohibited Competition, Prohibited Practices, for more details.


All University social media sites must comply with the Office of Information Technology security practices. OIT developed best practices specifically to strengthen social media site security.  

Social Media Core Values

Be ethical.

Protect confidential and proprietary information related to the University, its students, employees and alumni. Federal requirements, including FERPA, HIPA and NCAA regulations, apply to communication in social media. Be sure to adhere to all applicable University privacy and confidentiality policies.

Be accurate.

Be transparent about your role at Stanislaus State and be authentic in your communications with others. Admit and correct mistakes quickly and accurately. Be mindful of your responsibility to use University time and resources wisely.

Be respectful.

Conversations should stay on topic, and can include positive and negative perspectives. Moderate conversations respectfully to foster relationship building. Include language in your account description asking those who participate on your social media site to be courteous as well.

Be thoughtful.

Have a plan to share relevant, interesting and succinct content, and know your audience. Create posts related to your field or area of expertise, and cross-promote content from related units on campus. Think before you post — your content can be shared widely and publicly.

Be engaged.

Remember that creating effective social media will take work. Commit the required time and passion to engage with your social audience. Consistency is critical. Start small, measure your efforts and make adjustments.

Be in touch.

Let us know if you plan to start a social media site for your program or department. We would be delighted to help you get started and to find ways to reach your audience.

Be authentic.

Personally address participants on your social media sites by name and respond to them in the first person. Let your enthusiasm for Stanislaus State shine through.

Be helpful.

Answer requests for information quickly and accurately. You often can link back to resources on the University website. Providing information swiftly demonstrates that you are listening and responsive to the needs of those in your social sphere, and builds a sense of community.

Updated: January 12, 2024