Social media offers an incredibly effective way to engage others in Stony Brook’s mission to make a positive impact on our community, nation and world. By using social media in a smart and well-considered way, you have the opportunity to reach audiences and drive outcomes FAR BEYOND expectation. But building a social media presence takes significant time and commitment, and often the best way to promote your message is to make the most of what already exists successfully.

The following is a set of guidelines and best practices developed to assist University employees in optimizing their social media efforts for and on behalf of the University. Stony Brook employees are subject to these guidelines to the extent they identify themselves as a Stony Brook employee (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal blog on topics unrelated to Stony Brook). If you have suggestions or comments about these procedures, please contact Tori Zito in Marketing & Communication at

Important Information

Maintain PRivacy and Confidentiality:

  • Be careful not violate any University, state or federal privacy laws, including FERPA and HIPPA. Do your best to keep your audience from revealing private data on your channel as well. Immediately report concerning information to the social media platform and your department head. If you have any questions please contact

Respect Copyright and Fair Use Laws:

  • Use Stony Brook logos only if authorized by the University as per policies set by the Office of Communications and Marketing. All social media accounts must utilize proper university branding, and only “@stonybrooku” accounts should utilize the shield logo alone as an icon. See for more information, including image guidelines and editorial tips.
  • Make sure you have permission to deploy any media you post not already in the public domain.

For tips regarding safety and protecting your identity on social media platforms, visit

Behavioral Expectations:

Social media offers current and prospective students, employees, and alumni many opportunities to get involved with our campus community and to share knowledge. Online communities, however, sometimes give us a false sense of security. All users of our social media channels should abide by the following guidelines:

  • Do not post personal information, such as your phone number, address, social security number, class schedule or anything else you wouldn’t want complete strangers viewing. Use privacy settings to control who can see your profile/posts.
  • Always be respectful in the content you add to a discussion. Be tolerant of others’ opinions, avoid antagonizing anyone, and take the high road when provoked. Remember that anything you post may be viewed by your parents, teachers, or future employers. Use good judgment and think before you post.
  • Respect copyright and fair use laws. Don’t post anything copyrighted or pictures that include other people (even your friends) without their permission.
  • Stony Brook University administrators do not search for students or monitor social media pages not affiliated with the University. However, we do reserve the right to take action when content that violates University policies or laws is brought to our attention.
  • Be honest, transparent, creative, and, most of all, have fun!

Additional Guidelines:

  • Our social media efforts encourage active discussion and sharing of information and thoughts.
  • We are not responsible for comments or wall postings made by visitors. Comments posted also do not in any way reflect the opinions or policies of Stony Brook University.
  • Stony Brook University reserves the right to remove comments on Stony Brook University-run social media pages that unlawfully harass or discriminate; advocate illegal activity; incite violence; threaten; contain spam; are clearly off-topic; are excessive in frequency; infringe on copyrights or trademarks; or publicly share private or identifying information about an individual. The University does not permit messages selling products or promoting commercial, political or other ventures. We reserve the right to take appropriate action when content that violates University policies or laws is brought to our attention.
  • Please show respect for your fellow users by keeping the discussion civil. Comments are subject to the individual social media platform’s Terms of Use and Code of Conduct.
  • Any post that does not adhere to Stony Brook University’s Title VII and Title IX policies on sexual assault and harassment may be subject to investigation. The following links can be visited for more information.
  • Familiarize yourself and abide by the terms of service or community guidelines of the platforms you use. There are rules regarding the use of images and music, promotions, and more. Social media sites can freeze or delete your account with no advance notice if you do not abide by their terms of service.
  • In addition, election campaign materials or postings otherwise deemed inappropriate will be deleted by the page administrators.
  • University policies place restrictions on who may approve contracts and formal agreements. The terms and conditions associated with the creation of many social media accounts are often viewed as formal agreements. Please carefully consider whether written approval from the dean, vice president, or vice provost of your School, College, or division may be required.
  • Passwords should be accessible by the head of your department and/or the University Comms team.

Social Media During a Crisis

Stony Brook University communicates with the campus during crises through the Division of Enterprise Risk Management. The following sites are considered the official primary social media sites during an incident:


Members of the Social Media Users Group and other users throughout the University are encouraged to share official crisis communications.

Reporting information

"If You See Something, Say Something" is a globally recognized campaign that was born in the wake of 9/11 as a tactic to involve citizens in efforts to prevent acts of terrorism. One of the main goals of this campaign is to encourage people to think of preserving not only their own safety, but also to take actions to preserve the safety of their community. The concept of not being passive when you see something that could be harmful to others can be applied to social media as well.

It is impossible for the University to monitor all social media activity taking place at or referencing the school. We must rely on the community to help by pro-actively alerting us of issues of concern you see on social media. Such examples include, but are not limited to, threats to life, cyberbullying, self-harm, illegal behavior, or other similar serious negative events that can be prevented if responsible individuals are alerted. Such incidents should be reported immediately to University Police at 631-632-3333.
Threats conveyed over social media have real legal consequences, even if made in jest and/or via theoretically anonymous applications. Many students are unaware that others who have made threats online, including threats that were believed to be anonymous, may face legal action as a consequence for their actions. Threats made online, even when analyzed not to be serious, are not taken lightly and should not be posted under any circumstances.

Threat analysis and incident response

Once the University Police or Emergency Management have been notified of a threat they will begin the process of analyzing the threat. In addition to analyzing the threat, University Police or Emergency Management will begin notifying campus leadership of the threat and their informed opinion on the validity of the threat. Other notifications may be made to SUNY System Administration and to local or other law enforcement agencies for technical or operational support if needed.

If the threat is determined to be credible, the University Police or Emergency Management will initiate a criminal investigation. The Chief of Police, Director of Emergency Management and/or their designees will advise campus leadership on response options and suggested changes to campus status including limited/full evacuations, sheltering in place, building closures, and class cancellations.

Authorized Stony Brook Social Media Sites

Authorized sites – official online publications of University departments, programs, and centers – are eligible to be listed on the University’s Connect page at To obtain authorization, the responsible staff member should fill out this form first, and contact whoever supports social media in your area:

Note: All Stony Brook Athletics social media policies, concerns, and requests should go through Athletics

In order to obtain authorization, University social media accounts must be accessible to users with disabilities, in compliance with federal and state law and regulations. (See below for information on making your accounts accessible.) All relevant university social media account passwords must remain on file with your designated marketing liaison, and/or the marketing liaison must be listed as a full administrator on the account, depending on the platform.

Any accounts that are found in violation of these procedures will be considered fraudulent and are subject to censure and/or disciplinary action.

Note: University policies place restrictions on who may approve contracts and formal agreements. The terms and conditions associated with the creation of many social media accounts are often viewed as formal agreements. Please carefully consider whether written approval from the dean, vice president, or vice provost of your School, College, or division may be required.

Social Media Tips

Follow these guidelines for a successful social media presence and to maintain unity with the Stony Brook brand.

Have a Strategy:

  • Before getting involved with social media, consider your objectives and your target audience. Consider whether a social medium is the right conduit to meet these goals. Finally, develop a strategy for how you’ll use your chosen medium. If you’d like assistance in building a strategy, contact your departmental marketing liaison.


  • Each medium carries its own set of customs and etiquettes, and a unique lexicon. Take time to study the channel you’ll be working with prior to posting content to avoid being considered inauthentic and uneducated by the online community. Keep in mind that you are a University representative and will be perceived as such.

Be Involved:

  • Most social media require significant supervision and time commitments. Be prompt in responding to questions and feedback, and do your best to keep the flows of information and conversation continuously active.

Be Transparent:

  • Make sure it is clear to your community who you are and what your role is as a University employee. Authenticity is a fundamental component of any social media environment.
  • Make sure the content you post is appropriate for your audience and what you want to achieve. Be factual, provide sources or links for claims you make, fix errors quickly, and don’t spam.
  • You must keep your business / professional use of social media completely separate from your personal use. Use of University resources (time, equipment, networks) for personal purposes violates both State law and University policy. Accordingly, your use of social media as a University representative may not link to or reference content in your personal profile/account.

Be Respectful:

  • Be tolerant of others’ opinions, avoid antagonizing anyone, and take the high road when provoked. Remember, you are a member of the Stony Brook community, and so represent not only your department but also the University itself.
  • Part of what makes social media such a powerful tool is its ability to produce a pleasant environment for open dialogue. Therefore censoring dialogue is not common. However, circumstances will arise when, as a forum host, you must initiate action to remove user-generated content. At the outset, articulate a clear behavioral policy for your audience. Consider how your failure to remove discriminatory or defamatory content would be perceived by the poster, your forum audience and the general public.
  • Don’t overreact to the appearance of negative content, but do address it. Keep in mind that removing a negative post may put an idea out of sight, but discussing and deconstructing it has the power to change minds.


  • Stony Brook University is committed to providing students, faculty, staff and visitors with access to online resources. All authorized Stony Brook social media sites must make certain that all resources are available in a format accessible to users with disabilities.
  • Varying accessibility options are available on social media platforms. University accounts must ensure that social posts are accessible to the greatest extent possible. The following guidelines should be used when posting.
Alternative Text
  • Most accessibility issues on social media arise from embedded images, which may not be meaningful to the visually impaired. Adding “alt text” to images can resolve most of these issues. Alt text describes the content of images, graphs and charts in a way that makes sense to users employing assistive technology such as screen readers. Alt text should answer this question: What is the content conveyed by the image? 
  • Tip: When posting to social media, always consider how the post would appear without the embedded image. Is the user receiving the same information that s/he would if the image were visible? 
  • Note: Purely decorative images, which don’t add information to the content of a post, need not be described in alt tags. However, such images should be provided with null (empty) alt text (alt="") so that they can be ignored by assistive technologies, such as screen readers. 
Accessibility for Twitter

When you Tweet photos using the Twitter app for iOS or Android, or on, you should compose a description of the images so the content is accessible to more people, including those who are blind or low-vision.

Good image descriptions are concise and descriptive, helping people understand what’s happening in an image and the reason for including the image. If posting a picture of a flyer or document, the alt text should consist of the entire text contained in the image. See Twitter's tutorial on writing great image descriptions.

To add image descriptions on Twitter:

    1. Click on the Tweet compose  button, or press the “n” key to use the keyboard shortcut.
    2. Attach your photo(s).  Note: For detailed instructions about adding photos to your Tweets, read this article.
    3. To insert descriptive text, click  "Add description."
    4. Type your description of the image (the limit is 1000 characters) and select Save. An ALT badge will appear in the corner of the image. To edit the description, re-open the  "Add description" dialog prior to posting the Tweet.
    5. You can add a description to each image in a Tweet. When someone selects the ALT badge, the image description appears on screen.  Note: Image descriptions cannot be added to videos.
    6. See the full procedure from Twitter
Accessibility for Facebook

Facebook adds machine-generated alt text automatically. However, the machine-generated text may not be sufficiently accurate, and automated alt-text does not recognize text contained within images. Therefore it is recommended that you add descriptive text along with pictures that you post to Facebook. Ideally, the descriptive text you write will both explain and enhance the meaning of the picture.

To see and edit alt text for a photo before you post it:

  1. Click Photo/Video at the top of your News Feed.
  2. Select the photo you want to add.
  3. Hover over the photo and click Edit.
  4. The automatically generated text will be shown on the left side of your photo. Click Override generated alt text to edit it.
  5. Write your alt text in the box. To change back to the automatically generated text, click Clear.
  6. To save your alt text, click Save in the bottom left.

To change the alt text of a photo after you've posted it:

    1. Click the photo to open it.
    2. Click in the top right and select Change Alt Text.
    3. Click Override generated alt text or change the alt text in the text box. You can also click Clear to change your edited alt text back to the automatically generated text.
    4. Click Save.
Accessibility for YouTube

In order to be accessible, YouTube videos must include captions that reflect all audio information, including sound effects or music, and identify speakers. YouTube will generate captions for most videos subsequent to upload, but machine-generated captions may be inaccurate and will probably require editing. University of Minnesota provides useful information on creating accessible video captions in YouTube.

If the video  includes visual information that is needed to understand what the video is communicating (e.g., athlete demonstrates how to lift weights safely) it is necessary to include an audible description of that information on the video soundtrack. Creating and cross-linking an audio-described alternative version of the original video is an acceptable solution. The audio-described version should be posted at the same time as the original version. Examples:

Accessibility for Instagram

Automatic alt text uses object recognition technology to provide a visual description of photos for people with visual impairments. You can replace this text to provide a better description of a photo. Keep in mind that this description will only be read if someone is using a screen reader to access Instagram.

To see and edit alt text for a photo before you post it on Instagram:

  1. Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
  2. Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap Next.
  3. Tap Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Write Alt Text.
  5. Write your alt text in the box and tap Done (iOS) or Save (Android)

To change the alt text of a photo after you've already posted it on Instagram:

  1. Go to the photo and tap (iOS) or (Android).
  2. Tap Edit.
  3. Tap Edit Alt Text in the bottom right.
  4. Write the alt text in the box and tap Done (iOS) or  (Android).

Request a social media account

To request an approved Stony Brook University social media account, please fill out this form: