Guidance on social media for students


Social media is a huge part of everyday life and affects how we interact, live and work. 

Used effectively, the way you conduct yourself online can enhance your learning experience and make you more employable when you graduate, as well help you connect with others in our University community. Used poorly, you risk damaging your reputation and potentially harming others, as well as leaving yourself open to formal disciplinary and even legal proceedings.

This guide is intended to support and protect students, making you aware of the benefits and potential pitfalls of social networking, and the consequences in place for misusing social media – both as a Manchester student and in your personal life.

This set of guidelines applies to students’ use of social media and does not apply to staff use of social media. Staff are directed to the University’s Social Media Policy which is designed for staff who use, or wish to use, social media within their role at the University.

What is social media? 

Social media is any interactive online media that allows instant communication and the sharing of information in a public forum. 

This may include, but is not limited to; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, WhatsApp, Reddit, TikTok, Snapchat, Weibo, WeChat and YouTube. 

Your social media presence 

The University of Manchester encourages freedom of speech and understands the role that universities play in society as a place for debate, discussion and consideration of ideas – this includes allowing discussion of ideas that are controversial in society. However, as a student, you have agreed to act in accordance with our policies, which include treating staff, students and our wider university community with mutual dignity and respect. 

The behaviour we expect from you applies both online and offline and we view violations on social media as equal to anything published in print or said in person.

When you are using your social media account, please consider the following:

  • Posting anything online, even in private spaces, has the potential to become public without your knowledge or consent. You are personally responsible for what you share, and once online it's very difficult to delete or control how widely material is shared. Make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you share being public before you send it.

  • Respect people’s privacy and don't share personal information about yourself or others, including email addresses, phone numbers or addresses in public posts. If you post anything about somebody else, including images and videos, do it with their knowledge and consent, and be aware of our Data Protection Policy. Posts or comments that include this kind of information may be removed.

  • You should also not share images of your student IDs on social media or online, and you must never disclose your University IT account password to anyone. People who obtain your personal information can impersonate you to commit fraud and other crimes, so it’s important to stay protected. For more information and advice on cyber security, visit the IT Services website.  

  • Think about who you want to be able to see your information and set privacy settings accordingly. Remember that even with the strictest privacy settings, others can share your posts, so you may have no control over who sees them.

  • Think before you send - the internet is not the place to let off steam. If you have a concern or a complaint, don't post it. Instead, follow it up through the recognised channels in your School, Faculty or the wider University.

  • Be very cautious about arranging to meet someone you only know online. They may not be who they say they are. Arrange to meet during the day in a public place and take a friend or tell friends where you are going.

When you are using your social media accounts, please ensure you do not:

  • Do anything that could be considered discriminatory against, or bullying or harassment of, any individual e.g. making offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender reassignment, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or age; using social media to bully another individual or; posting images that are discriminatory/offensive or links to such content.

  • Breach copyright e.g. using someone else’s work, such as images or content without permission; failing to give acknowledgement where permission has been given to reproduce something;

  • Breach confidentiality e.g. revealing confidential information owned by the University or a third-party; giving away confidential information about an individual or organisation.

  • Use The University of Manchester logo or branding across social media platforms (including YouTube) without the University’s prior written consent. This includes the wearing of University branded uniform or ID (such as medical uniform, or ID badges) across social media, or within social media content. These actions result in the impression of advocacy and content endorsed by the University, which is inappropriate and, in some cases, unlawful.

Your responsibilities as a student using official University social media accounts

The following applies to students who are using a society/ sports/ departmental social media account or running a student takeover on one of the University’s official social media channels:

  • If you would like to create a new social media account for a society, please please consult with the Marketing & Communications team at the Students’ Union or email; if you wish to create a departmental one, please consult with your School office; if you wish to create one for a sports club or team, please consult with the Athletic Union/ SPORT.

  • We understand that social media may be used as a place to voice concerns, opinions or frustrations - however, when using an official university account you are representing the University so please ensure you contact the relevant department or the Students’ Union if you are unhappy about something. Before reacting in the heat of the moment, always take time to think about what you are posting on social media and remember that everything you post is permanent. Seek advice if you are unsure.

  • Do not post anything on an official University social media account that could be deemed offensive, including discrimination, bullying or harassment of any kind.

  • Ensure that you do not reveal confidential information about the University or its students, staff, partner organisations or clients.

  • Ensure you check the copyright of images and other content you post, before you post it.

  • Consult the Media Relations team or Student News team if there is any media interest resulting from your online activity.

Misuse of social media 

The University does not condone any form of harassment or discrimination, online or offline, and inappropriate social media use may result in action being taken under the Conduct and Discipline of Students regulation.

Disciplinary action brought against you by the University could, in serious cases, lead to suspension or expulsion. Where conduct may be an illegal criminal offence, the University may report the matter to the police. Beyond that, any member of staff, student or third party may pursue legal action against you, if they choose to do so.

Students accessing social media using the University’s IT facilities or services must also abide by our IT Regulations and Acceptable Use Policy.

Cyber bullying

The University is strongly committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and has zero tolerance to any forms of harassment and discrimination by students, members of staff, or other members of the University community. 

The following examples illustrate the types of behaviour, displayed through social media communications, which the University considers to be forms of cyber bullying:  

  • Maliciously spreading rumours, lies or gossip.
  • Intimidating or aggressive behaviour.
  • Offensive or threatening comments or content.
  • Posting private images of an individual without consent (including, but not limited to, private sexual images of an individual).
  • Sharing unwanted images (including sexual images).
  • Posting comments, photos, etc; deliberately mocking an individual with the intent to harass or humiliate them.
  • Sending messages or posting comments with the intent to trick, force or pressure the receiver into doing something that they would not otherwise be comfortable doing (grooming).

Cyber bullying may also take place via other means of electronic communication such as email, text or instant messaging. 

If you see something on a social media site that concerns you, you can report it to the social media platform directly who will likely pass the complaint to the person who set up the space or group. If it concerns the University, or a member of the University community, please use Report and Support to make a formal complaint about the conduct of our staff or students and to access support services related to harassment and discrimination. Anyone who is experiencing cyber bullying by a University student or member of staff, will have the full support of the University.

The Students’ Union are also able to offer support and guidance.


Relevant links