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Social Media Guidelines

These Guidelines apply to all UCAR employees who create, use, or contribute to all forms of social media as part of their work. Applicable UCAR policies are also outlined below.

UCAR expects its employees to act with integrity and to behave in ways that merit public trust and confidence, including while engaging in and using social media.

Social media include online services that facilitate multidirectional communication, such as blogs, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

UCAR social media assets should be distinguished from personal social media assets, as more fully described below. These Guidelines provide information for UCAR employees that use or manage social media accounts/channels that belong to UCAR. However, UCAR employees may find that many of these Guidelines are helpful when thinking about personal social media accounts.

UCAR Social Media

UCAR social media assets generally include any social media accounts/channels that are: (a) used for UCAR business; (b) created by UCAR employees during the course of their employment or with the use of UCAR resources; or (c) which purport to represent UCAR. UCAR social media accounts/channels should:

  • Be created only after approval by the director (or the director's designated staff) of the lab or program in which the unit resides. Once approved, send an FYI to Communications so the new channel can be added to the Social Media at NCAR & UCAR web page;
  • Support and accurately represent the mission of the unit as a whole;
  • Have a minimum of two responsible site administrators:
  • Site login and after-hours contact information for all site administrators should be on record with the unit's administrative staff;
    • Site administrators should arrange for and assure staff monitoring and access to the site at all times, including coverage during work absences;
    • For blogs, mini-blogs, and similar media, whenever possible include a link within the site's Bio, About, Information, or similar section to UCAR's Terms of Use;
  • For invited contributors, do not agree to anonymity and, if the UCAR social media channel is accessible by the public, require any invited contributors, including guest bloggers, to acknowledge and agree to:
    • the publication of their name and relevant social media identity
    • comply with all editorial requests from the blog's or channel's designated UCAR editor. The editor should review guest content, apply UCAR's policies and these Social Media Guidelines to such content, and publish it only if in compliance with these Guidelines and UCAR policies.
  •  If your social media channel permits public comments, display the following comments policy:

We encourage the free exchange of ideas. Discussion is welcome but uncivil discourse, including vulgar language, personal attacks, or offensive terms targeting individuals or groups is not.

We expect participants to treat one another with respect and will remove comments and/or prevent future posting by anyone who fails to do so. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also be removed, as will any promotion of or links to products or services. All comments are governed by UCAR's Terms of Use.

  • Comply with applicable UCAR policies


Applicable Policies


Many existing UCAR policies apply to UCAR social media. These include:

2-1 Ethical Conduct

2-2 Congressional & Agency Interactions & Lobbying

3-1 Official Communications

3-2 Intellectual Property & Technology Transfer

3-4 Solicitation & Distribution of Materials

3-5 Publication and Information Dissemination

3-6 Access to and Use of Computer & Information Systems


Restriction reminders:

  • UCAR systems and equipment cannot be used to promote or endorse political causes or positions. They cannot be used to promote or endorse commercial products or for personal commercial gain. They cannot be used to advocate religious positions.
  • Obey copyright laws. Do not post materials for which you do not have rights on a UCAR site/channel/asset (or any other site). For more information regarding copyright law, see Intellectual Property FAQs on the website of the UCAR Office of General Counsel. UCAR use permission questions should be referred to the Office of Communications, ext. 8601.
  • Personal opinions on matters within the scope of UCAR's mission and objectives should be clearly identified as such so others do not construe them as representing an official UCAR position.

Contact the Director of Communications with questions about these Guidelines.

For resources and information about social media at UCAR/NCAR, see UCAR's Web Advisory Group.


Social Media “Best Practice” Recommendations

These best practice recommendations from the NCAR & UCAR Communications Office provide collective wisdom regarding professional conduct that has not been codified within a policy.

To further strengthen the distinction between UCAR positions and personal views, we encourage individual staff members to create social media accounts that do not use UCAR social media assets. For all UCAR assets:


  • Distinguish personal opinions. Your opinions on matters within the scope of UCAR's mission and objectives should be clearly identified as personal opinions so others do not construe them as representing an official UCAR position.
  • Stay within your expertise. Use social media to represent your areas of expertise and provide your perspective on your own work. "Write what you know."
  • Be accurate. As a scientific organization we value the public's trust in the veracity of our content. If you are unfamiliar with a topic or its accuracy, have your content reviewed by a knowledgeable colleague before posting.
  • Be factual. Do not participate in spreading false rumors or unverified speculation.
  • Be honest. The value of social media is in presenting your unique voice and perspective. Honesty will give you and the institution credibility. Never represent UCAR, NCAR, or yourself in a false or misleading way.
  • Be judicious. Do not violate confidentiality, privacy, or legal Guidelines. Never post any content that is considered confidential by UCAR, a sponsor, or any third party. Protect yourself and others and do not post any information or images that are either private or sensitive.
  • Be responsive. Social media are most powerful when they facilitate dialogue. Answer inquiries in timely fashion. Moderate comments as quickly as possible.
  • Be professional and respectful. Your comments are public and represent not only you but also your colleagues and the organization as a whole. Most social media have limited ability to "undo" and remarkable staying power. To avoid regret (and typos), a best practice is to re-read a post at least twice before hitting "send." If a situation is emotionally charged, WAIT. Have someone else read your draft, or take a long break and review it later. It's easier to hit the "cancel" button than to bring something back from cyberspace.
  • Be safe. Social media use involves privacy, safety, and security risks. See Social Networking Security Guidelines from UCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory for tips on reducing the risks.
  • Be accountable. Require user registration (no anonymous comments) on sites open to the public and include a brief privacy statement on your registration form stating the scope of your use of private information. To make registration less of an obstacle, consider providing the option of signup via the user's Twitter or Facebook account (or those of future social media megasites providing a similar service). Moderate or monitor all comments and encourage your community to flag inappropriate content if this feature is available in your commenting architecture.
Last updated on November 13, 2013 - 11:07am.
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