YUSU has introduced social media guidelines for Union officers after a number of disputes and controversies concerning the use of Facebook and Twitter were raised in the past year.
The guidelines state that both full-time and part-time officers must abide by the YUSU Code of Conduct when writing on their personal, as well as official, Facebook or Twitter page.
Union officers have agreed that they cannot distinguish what they say in a personal capacity from anything they say in an official capacity, as outlined in the document.
“What you publish cannot be isolated from your representational role and may be picked up by the media and students. As such, you can still be held to account for views expressed when not acting in an ‘official’ YUSU capacity.”
Officers must abide by the Code of Conduct which forbids a variety of different illegal and unauthorised activity, including: “conduct detrimental to the public reputation of the Union”.
This means that any YUSU officer is accountable for what they say in private conversations on their personal social media pages.
There were calls for guidelines covering activities by YUSU officers on social media at the start of this academic year after an incident involving a former Racial and Equalities Officer in a private conversation on Facebook.
The Officer was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks in a Facebook chat with a local councillor. Although the Officer was not speaking in an official capacity at the time, they resigned two weeks later.
Similarly, the University rugby team was criticised in June last year after racist tweets appeared on their official twitter account. Two individuals within the team were expelled from the club.
The social media guidelines for full-time and part-time officers were accepted by the current YUSU team last week.