Social Media and Cell Phone Use

Policy Type: 

I. Policy Title: Social Media and Cell Phone Use

II. Who Does This Policy Affect?

All HFC students, faculty, staff, vendors and visitors to our campuses, and associated or affiliated organizations or entities

III. Purpose

This cell phone and social media policy sets forth Henry Ford College’s (the “College”) policy on cell phone and social media usage. It provides guidance for the use of cell phones and social media and establishes protocol for use of cell phones and social media while at school and/or work.

IV. Policy Statement:

This policy applies to all use of social media and cell phones or similar devices (see “Definitions” below) by College students, faculty, staff, vendors and visitors when social media and cell phones are used to address, discuss or otherwise communicate about members of HFC community, events and activities at the College, and/or the College itself. This policy applies whether the College network or non-College resources or systems are used.

The growing use of cell phones and social media has changed methods of communication, both as individuals and as a College. The College embraces advances in cell phone and related technologies and social media usage. As we embrace such advances, it is important to be aware that all use of cell phones and social media at the College, or about the College, is governed by the same laws, regulations, policies and code of conduct, that apply to all other services, activities and functions at or concerning the College. For example, and without limitation, use of cell phones or social media for inappropriate conduct such as sexual harassment or other harassment, bullying, discrimination, defamation, infringement of copyright and trademark rights, unauthorized disclosure of student records, or any similar activity is prohibited.

Even cell phone and social media use of a private nature and not conducted on College premises may subject users to disciplinary action if the activities are in violation of any College policy, interfere with the conduct of College business, or may cause damage to the College’s reputation. All users of cell phones and social media channels must comply with applicable laws, regulatory requirements, and the College Code of Conduct.

This policy is not intended to prohibit, prevent or infringe upon constitutionally-protected free speech.

V. Definitions

a. Users include Board of Trustees, administration/staff, faculty (full-time or part-time), independent contractors, interns, consultants, vendors, employees, students, and visitors. All employees are required to sign an agreement confirming their understanding and acceptance of this policy and its procedure.

b. Students are individuals enrolled in for-credit or non-credit courses at the College.

c. Cell Phone Usage or Similar Devices: For the purpose of this Policy, the term “cell phone or similar device” is defined as any portable electronic device with the ability to receive and/or transmit voice, text, or data including, but not limited to, cellular phones, digital wireless phones, radio phones, walkie-talkies, telephone pagers, tablet devices, wearable technologies such as smart watches, personal digital assistants (PDAs), Research in Motion (RIM) wireless devices, or any device or system that provides similar functionality.

d. Social Media: website and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

e. Social Networking. The use of dedicated websites and applications to interact with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.


Social Media Usage Guidelines

Posting content and comments to social media should be done in a respectful and responsible manner, whether using the College social media channels or others. College policies governing inappropriate conduct apply to social media use. All students, employees, faculty, and vendors should become familiar with College policies to make sure they are in compliance. Conduct prohibited by law, such as discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment, to name a few, is prohibited on social media.

Personal Use of Social Media

HFC employees and students frequently have their own social media presence, separate from any work or study at HFC. Students and employees are free to use their social media channels in any way they wish, keeping a clear distinction between their personal presence and the professional presence of the College.

The College recognizes that social media sites may be used to express personal views, concerns, and criticisms. It is not the intention of this policy to limit expression of personal views. The College reminds social media users to check their postings for accuracy, clarity, and to make sure offensive language or symbols are not used, and check the length and tone of their postings. Posts to social media are easily made public, even when intended to be private. Postings last forever in the digital realm, and should reflect on your personal reputation with good etiquette and professionalism. We urge you to respect the views of others, even if you do not agree with them.

The College reserves the right, in compliance with legal and regulatory obligations, to impose disciplinary measures upon students or employees who use personal social media channels or related technologies in violation of this Policy, in a manner that may damage the College’s reputation, or if the use interferes with the conduct of College business.

Professional Use of Social Media in Comments and Postings

Posted communications and images on the College’s social media websites do not necessarily reflect the views of Henry Ford College. The College reserves the right to delete or remove any comments, images, videos, or other content that it deems offensive or in violation of its policies. For example, a posted comment or image that contains hate speech, profanity, nudity, defamatory content, or other illegal and/ or offensive content will be deleted in its entirety. This is not an exhaustive list. The College expects that all users will conduct themselves in an appropriate, thoughtful, respectful manner. If you become aware of objectionable comments or behavior posted on HFC social media, or about HFC posted on an unaffiliated site, please notify the Office of Marketing and Communications promptly. If necessary, the College may refer the matter to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Do not post copyrighted content without the consent of the holder of that copyrighted content. Even if information widely available to the public is posted on the internet, it still may be subject to copyright restrictions that prohibit its duplication or dissemination.

Be aware that social media privacy options do not completely protect information from being shared beyond its boundaries. Privacy laws, such as FERPA and HIPAA, apply to posting or transmitting on social media sites.

Professional Use of Social Media by Agents or Representatives of the College

When working as an official representative or agent on College social media channels, no individual represents the official voice of the College. It is important that College social media representatives maintain accuracy by verifying facts with reliable, reputable sources before posting information on any College social media channel. Respect, professionalism, and good judgment are required for all representatives or agents of the College.

Official Henry Ford College social media channels are to be used for business purposes only. College social media sites may not be used to post or promote services, activities, products, opinions, or organizations that are unrelated to official College business.

Access to Henry Ford College social media channels, including but not limited to usernames and passwords, is restricted to authorized personnel only, and such access may not be shared under any circumstances with anyone who has not been granted official authorization by the Office of Marketing and Communications or their designee.

The Board of Trustees authorizes the President or his/her designee to develop social medial guidelines to implement this policy.

Please refer to the related document, "Henry Ford College Social Media Guidelines," for more detailed information.

Cell Phone or Similar Devices - Guidelines While at Work

Employees are expected to exercise the same discretion in using personal cell phones as they use with College-provided phones. Excessive personal calls or texts during the work day can interfere with productivity and be distracting to others. Employees should restrict personal calls, texts, and related communications during work time, and, except for emergencies, should use personal cell phones only during scheduled break or lunch periods, and in non-working areas. Personal calls and texts should be made during non-work time whenever possible. Employees should inform their friends and family members of appropriate use during work hours.

Secure and protect your personal property. The College is not liable for loss, theft, or damage to personal cell phones or similar devices brought into the workplace. Losses and thefts should be immediately reported to Campus Safety, which will follow established procedures in attempting to secure the return of devices to their owners.

Unsafe Work Situations

The College prohibits employee use of cell phones or similar devices while:
1) at any work site at which the operation of such a device would be a distraction to the user and/or could create an unsafe work environment for the user or others, and
2) Operating a personal vehicle on behalf of the College, operating a College-owned or leased vehicle, or operating other vehicles on behalf of the College, including but not limited to snow removal machinery, lawn mowing machinery, and maintenance machinery.

Hands-free, voice-activated operation of cell phones while operating a vehicle is discouraged, but is not prohibited, except where it is prohibited by law.

Prohibition of Camera Phones and Recording Capabilities without Consent

Employees, students, vendors, consultants, and community members may not use any cameras, video or audio recording devices, apps, or related features of cell phones or similar devices when there is any risk of privacy violations or breaches of confidentiality. Recording of any kind must be based on expressed, informed consent by all persons who will be recorded. Any recording in which subjects are not aware of the recording, or did not expressly consent to the recording, is prohibited.

In addition, students must also abide by the Code of Conduct that governs the use of personal cell phones and camera phones or devices in instructional and academic settings.
The use of camera phones can present legal risks to our College, potentially compromising students’, employees’ and vendors’ confidential information. In addition, improper usage may be a crime. The Michigan Penal Code Act 328 of 1931, Section 750.539j specifically prohibits “Surveillance of or distribution, dissemination, or transmission of recording, photograph, or visual image of individuals that have reasonable expectation of privacy.” It is important that camera phones are used properly and in compliance with the law.

The College defines areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy on campus to include, but not be limited to, the following:

• Campus locker rooms
• Restroom facilities
• Campus Safety Department
• Visual Arts Department
• Departments/offices containing confidential information

The only exception is statutory use by students who require “reasonable accommodations” in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act and similar laws.

Reporting of Improper Use

Employees, students, or visitors to the College who observe improper use of cell phone or similar technology should immediately report this to Campus Safety.

Employees, students, faculty or visitors to the College who have a complaint against an individual relating to this Policy, in which they believe they have a reasonable expectation of privacy, should make a formal complaint to the College’s Human Resource Department.

Special Responsibilities of College Administrative Staff and Faculty

It is important for all College staff, faculty, and those in supervisory or instructional roles to provide a good example of cell phone use and to guard against excessive or inappropriate use of cell phones and similar devices by those employees or students under their supervision.


Violations by employees may lead to appropriate disciplinary actions, up to and including termination in accordance with the provisions of any College Collective Bargaining Agreement and, where appropriate, criminal prosecution.

Violations by students are governed by the College Code of Conduct. This could lead to expulsion and/or criminal prosecution.

Violations by others, including vendors, consultants, and campus visitors, will be addressed according to contracts and local statutes. These may lead to termination of campus access privileges and access to HFC systems and services, and, where appropriate, criminal prosecution.

Safety Reminder

The use of cell phones and similar devices while driving leads to distractions that may result in accidents, injuries, or fatalities. Use of cell phones while driving on behalf of the College is expressly prohibited by this policy. The College cannot require you to adhere to these guidelines when you are not working, but it is strongly advised that you not use your cell phone or any similar device while you are driving, for your own safety and that of others on the roadways.

VI. Responsible Party for Policy Interpretation/Review:

Vice President of Strategy and Information
Director of Marketing and Communications

VII. Related Documents

• Social Media Guidelines

• Civility and Code of Conduct Policy

• Sexual Misconduct Policy

• Computer Systems Acceptable Use

VIII. Policy History

a. Adopted by Board: October 16, 2017

March 22, 2022 – Reviewed with no changes.

** This policy supersedes and replaces any and all policies related to this subject**

Adopted Date: 
Monday, October 16, 2017
Board Approved