WUFA's Guide to Civil Discourse on Social Media

September 19, 2023

The WUFA Communications Committee developed “A Guide to Civil Discourse on Social Media” which was reviewed and adopted by the WUFA Faculty Council on September 18, 2023. The ‘Guide’ document is pasted below:

WUFA strongly supports the rights of its members to academic freedom, free speech, and public debate.  The use of social media sites to discuss and advocate for important issues facing our members and society in general is crucial in advancing these goals.  Indeed, publicly commenting on issues and events that are of concern is typically expected of those who serve as public intellectuals. 

However, while social media platforms can serve as a valuable forum for public discourse, there are a number of legal consequences stemming from their improper use that members need to be aware of.  This could also result in disciplinary actions that can result from either the University, or any professional accreditation bodies that regulate our members.  WUFA has developed these guidelines for members to consult when using social media platforms in order to help avoid any disciplinary issues before they arise.  This is not legal advice and legal advice should be sought when the individual is concerned regarding the impact of their statement(s) or any liability that may arise therefrom.

It is important to note that once you have posted or submitted information in publicly viewable online fora, it is virtually impossible to restrict or retract it.  Never assume that the site that you are posting on is private or that what has been posted will not be disclosed to the University community, the University Administration, or the public at large. 

Many individual Facebook pages or personal social media sites contain information that identifies you as being employed by a particular organization or as a member of WUFA.  When you are expressing your opinions, you should make it clear that these opinions are yours alone and are not intended to be understood as anything else.  WUFA recommends that you should consider a “disclaimer” on your personal page or site along with following lines: 

PLEASE NOTE:  The opinions expressed on this site / page are entirely my own.  They should not be seen as reflecting the views of the University of Windsor or of the Windsor University Faculty Association or as having been authorized or approved by anyone other than me. 

  1. Always use respectful language when referring to others. 
  2. Do not use language that is libelous, discriminatory, threatening, or harassing.  If you would not make the statement in person to somebody you respect, modify it accordingly. 
  3. Your use of language should never be racially, ethnically, or sexually objectionable. 
  4. Do not use social media to invade anyone’s privacy. 
  5. Do not post individual images or recordings of anyone unless you know that they have consented to your doing so.  Do not assume or presume this consent; confirm it beforehand  with the person.
  6. Do not disclose addresses or other personal or private information about other individuals. 
  7. Avoid posting materials that are trademarked or subject to copyright.  When in doubt, use a link that will allow your audience to access the materials directly from the ownership source
  8. Do not make statements that are not truthful.  You are entitled to express your opinion about many subjects, however if you are making “factual” statements, you need to be able to prove that it is true.  For example, you can express your opinion that the President of the University makes too much money; but you cannot say that they have “stolen” from the University. 
  9. Do not transmit spam, advertisements, or solicitations for matters that are not work-related.  If you are transmitting emails seeking the support of your colleagues for a particular issue, you must say so and provide a means for recipients to “opt out” of receiving future emails on that subject. 
  10. Never transmit information using another individual’s name or identity. 
  11. Under no circumstances should you access a computer system without authorization by signing on to that system using another individual's credentials.