Adams School of Dentistry: Policy on the Use of Social Media


Adams School of Dentistry: Policy on the Use of Social Media

Unit Policy

I. Introduction

A. Purpose

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Adams School of Dentistry supports the use of social media platforms as a method of communication with family, friends, colleagues, school alumni and friends. Social media is an exciting and fun way to stay in touch and, when used responsibly, the School encourages both personal and professional use of these tools. However, because these platforms are used for both personal and professional connections, it is important to distinguish proper use of these tools as a member of the UNC Adams School of Dentistry community.

This Policy promotes appropriate use of social media tools while prohibiting actions that are illegal, unprofessional, or in conflict with School or University policies.

B. Scope

This Policy applies to all UNC Adams School of Dentistry faculty, staff, residents, students, and affiliates (collectively, "Adams School of Dentistry personnel").

II. Definitions

  1. Affiliates: individuals other than employees or students who contribute to Adams School of Dentistry operations under the direct control or supervision of School employees, such as Interns, Visiting Scholars, Volunteers, and Shadow Observers.
  2. School-related social media platforms: social media accounts promoting Adams School of Dentistry activities that are created and maintained at the direction or with the approval of the School's Director of Communications.
  3. Social media: any website or application that enables users to create and share content or to participate in social networking, whether for personal or professional purposes. Examples of social media include, but are not limited to, the following platforms: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

III. Policy

A. Policy Statement

The UNC Adams School of Dentistry encourages the promotion of School-related activities via social media, provided that this is done in a manner that:

  1. Promotes responsible and efficient use
  2. Protects the privacy rights of patients, students, and employees in accordance with all applicable laws and University policies
  3. Protects the confidentiality of unpublished research data and other School/University intellectual property

1. Responsible and Efficient Use

Prior to creating any new Adams School of Dentistry-related group or presence on a social media outlet, personnel are required to notify the School's Chief Communications and Marketing Officer in order to:

  1. avoid duplication between School entities;
  2. ensure any logos/trademarks used are authorized by the University; and
  3. confirm that pages are properly set up and monitored

In addition, under no circumstances may personnel represent oneself as acting on behalf of the University or the Adams School of Dentistry unless he or she is authorized to do so. When using social media for personal reasons, personnel must ensure that all opinions are clearly portrayed as opinions of the individual and do not reflect the position of or endorsement by the University or the Adams School of Dentistry.

2. Patient, Student, and Employee Privacy

  1. Patient Privacy:
    1. Adams School of Dentistry personnel may not disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) on School-related social media platforms unless a valid authorization has been signed by the patient.
    2. Under no circumstances may Adams School of Dentistry personnel disclose a patient’s name, image, or any other PHI on personal social media platforms.
  2. Student, Applicant and Alumni Privacy. Information about students, applicants, and alumni that is protected by law, including under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), may not be disclosed via social media except in accordance with the University's Policies and Procedures Under FERPA.
  3. Employee Privacy: Confidential information contained in personnel files for current and former employees, as well as applicants for employment, may not be disclosed via social media. For more information, visit the University's Confidentiality of Personnel Information policy.

3. Confidentiality of Research and Intellectual Property

Unpublished research data or other intellectual property of the University may not be disclosed on social media.

IV. General Guidelines

Outside of this Policy, there are general considerations that School of Dentistry personnel should take into account when using social media:

  1. Personal privacy. It is each individual’s responsibility to ensure he or she does not divulge too much personal information in any online forum or social media platform. Each individual is encouraged to pay attention to his or her own privacy settings.
  2. The Internet is permanent and social media impacts your reputation. Even if you delete something from a social media site, it can be recovered through site caches that are beyond the Adams School of Dentistry's control. Remember this as you post photos, opinions and other content.
  3. Be respectful and professional. Many of us use social media for personal reasons, but it is inevitable that at some point, professional and personal will overlap. As such, we encourage everyone to be kind and professional at all times.
  4. Communicate clearly. Always do your best to communicate your ideas transparently, without omissions or inaccuracies.
  5. When posting personal thoughts and opinions, do so from a personal account. Maintaining some separation between personal and professional social media is ideal. Be sure you’re doing what you can to distinguish when you’re speaking for yourself and not for the Adams School of Dentistry.
  6. Do not allow social media to interfere with your work or education.
  7. Be safe. Always be cautious when posting personal information, vacation or trip plans, etc. on a social media platform.
  8. When in doubt, contact the School's Communications Team. Social media is ever-evolving. If you have questions or concerns, contact the School's Director of Marketing and Communications and/or another member of the Communications Team (see "Contact Information" section below).

V. Related Requirements

A. External Regulations

  1. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  2. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
  3. North Carolina Human Resources Act, Article 7: The Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records
  4. UNC-Chapel Hill Policy on the Privacy of Protected Health Information
  5. UNC-Chapel Hill Policies and Procedures Under FERPA
  6. UNC-Chapel Hill Policy on Confidentiality of Personnel Information
  7. UNC-Chapel Hill Patent and Invention Policy

B. Unit Policies, Standards, and Procedures

  1. UNC-Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry Policy on Photography of Patients

VI. Contact Information

Policy Contacts
Topic Title Contact Info
General questions about this Policy
Responsible and Efficient Use (creating/using social media accounts for School-related business purposes)
Director of Marketing and Communications
Patient, Student, and Employee Privacy
Confidentiality of Research and Intellectual Property
Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs
Print Article


Article ID: 131299
Thu 4/8/21 9:05 PM
Mon 7/8/24 10:51 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Adams School of Dentistry
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Director of Marketing and Communications
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
06/10/2024 12:00 AM
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
06/12/2023 10:19 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/05/2021 10:19 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
01/05/2021 10:19 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
01/16/2019 12:00 AM

Related Articles (1)

The UNC-Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry has a legal and ethical responsibility to safeguard patient information. This responsibility includes ensuring that devices storing Protected Health Information ("PHI") or other Sensitive Information are properly encrypted and are serviced by an appropriate vendor. The purpose of this Policy is to ensure that all Computing Devices used by students will meet institutional security requirements.