The Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) recognizes that employees and students participate in the use of social media networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter etc. The creators of these systems and tools have incentives to design their systems so that users are encouraged to reveal as much information about themselves and their friends as possible. Thus, users share personal information such as photos, interests, contact information and their whereabouts. These powerful communication tools can have significant impacts on organizational and professional reputations. Because the systems can blur the line between “personal voice” and “professional voice”, WSSB has crafted this policy to help clarify the potential consequences of social media use as it relates to the workplace and to provide guidelines as to how employees of WSSB can protect their and the agency’s professional reputation. This clarification and guidance is especially important as every employee of WSSB is a mandated reporter, responsible for ensuring the highest possible level of protection for students.
Protect confidential and proprietary information: Do not post confidential or proprietary information about the agency, personnel, students or their families on social media networks. Employees are expected to adhere to all federal and state requirements regarding FERPA and HIPAA; as well as, all applicable agency privacy and confidentiality policies. Employees who share confidential information will be disciplined up to and including dismissal from employment.
Social media use: Social media use for business purposes is not permitted. Employees are not permitted to “friend” or engage in any way with students’ personal social media network accounts or to participate in personal cell phone texting with students unless pre-approved by the Superintendent. Employees who violate this directive will be disciplined up to and including dismissal from employment.
Personal online activity and connection to the agency:
- WSSB employees are personally responsible for the hosted content they publish online. Be mindful that what you publish on social media channels will be public for a long time—protect your privacy.
- When posting online, please remember that you are an employee of the WSSB and representative of your colleagues, students, parents and the school community.
- Your online behavior should reflect the same standards of honesty, respect and consideration that you use face-to-face.
Acts occurring in the context of social media off duty may be grounds for disciplinary action if said activities are a conflict of interest as set forth in RCW 42.52 or are detrimental to the employee’s work performance or the program of the agency.
Use of state equipment to access personal social media accounts: While WSSB allows limited or “di-minimus” personal use of state equipment pursuant to the [agency’s use of state resources policy and State ethics laws] such as computers, employees are cautioned from accessing personal social media accounts from state owned computers. All electronic information stored or transacted on state equipment is subject public disclosure. Messages on WSSB equipment (Blackberries, computers, laptops and cell phones) are not private.
Employees using the agency’s electronic communication systems should understand that they have no expectation of privacy in connection with use of this equipment or with transmission, use or storage of information in the equipment, including uploaded/downloaded information. The WSSB reserves the right to monitor Internet usage at such times and in such circumstances as appropriate.
Users of social media sites should consider whether usage may impact work performance, state time, office morale or overtime issues.
Failure to abide by this policy may result in loss of any social networking privileges and may also result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.