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
Casey Borchick in Communications & Marketing at
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
stonybrook.edu/social. 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.
Guidelines and 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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
- 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.
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 twitter.com,
you have the option to 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. To add image descriptions on Twitter.com:
Click on the Tweet compose button, or press the “n” key to use the keyboard shortcut.
Attach your photo(s). Note: For detailed instructions about adding photos to your
Tweets, read this
To insert descriptive text, click "Add description."
Type your description of the image and click the Done button. To edit the description,
re-open the "Add description" dialog prior to posting the Tweet. (The limit is 1000
You can add a description to each image in a Tweet. Note: Image descriptions cannot
be added to videos.
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:
Photo/Video at the top of your News Feed.
Select the photo you want to add.
Hover over the photo and click
The automatically generated text will be shown on the left side of your photo. Click
Override generated alt text to edit it.
Write your alt text in the box. To change back to the automatically generated text,
To save your alt text, click
Save in the bottom left.
To change the alt text of a photo after you've posted it:
Click the photo to open it.
Click in the top right and select
Change Alt Text.
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.
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:
Start by taking a photo or uploading an existing photo to Instagram.
- Choose a filter and edit the image, then tap
Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
Write Alt Text.
- Write your alt text in the box and tap
Done (iOS) or
To change the alt text of a photo after you've already posted it on Instagram:
- Go to the photo and tap (iOS) or (Android).
Edit Alt Text in the bottom right.
- Write the alt text in the box and tap
Done (iOS) or (Android).
- Be careful not violate any University, state or federal privacy laws, including
FERPA. Do your best to keep your audience from revealing private data on your channel as
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
stonybrook.edu/brand 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
For tips regarding safety and protecting your identity on social media platforms,
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
- Be honest, transparent, creative, and, most of all, have fun!
- Our social media efforts encourage active discussion and sharing of information and
- 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.
- Please show respect for your fellow users by keeping the discussion civil. Comments
- 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.
- We reserve the right to remove comments that are racist, sexist, abusive, profane,
violent, obscene, spam, that advocate illegal activity, contain falsehoods or are
wildly off-topic, or that libel, incite, threaten or make ad hominem attacks on Stony
Brook students, employees, guests or other individuals. We also do not permit messages
selling products or promoting commercial, political or other ventures.
- 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.
Social Media During a Crisis
Stony Brook University communicates with the campus during crises via social media.
The following sites are considered the official primary social media sites during
Members of the Social Media Users Group and other users throughout the University
are encouraged to repost or retweet official crisis communications.
Chancellor's Task Force on Social Media Responsibility
In late 2015, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher established the Chancellor's Task Force
on Social Media Responsibility. The task force was established in response to ongoing
issues across SUNY campuses involving anonymous threats on social media networks.
Its goal is twofold: one, to develop guidelines for campuses on educating their students
and campus population on best practices for engaging on social media; and two, to
develop guidelines for campuses on how best to respond when a threat does occur.
"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
firstname.lastname@example.org and/or 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 significant prison time 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.
Request a social media account
Submit the following form to request an approved Stony Brook University social media
Submit a Request