Social Media Guidelines

Overview and Scope

This document contains guidelines for responsible use of social media tools that will help you use them effectively and within Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and Tufts University policies and guidelines, as well as protect the clients, research, clinical programs, and the community and educational offerings of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Social Media Guidelines outline best practices for use of social media tools by students, faculty, and staff at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Requirements for both institutional and personal social media account presences are covered in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Social Media Policy.

If there is conflict or disagreement between Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Social Media Guidelines and Social Media Policy, the Social Media Policy takes precedence.


Institutional social media account: an account representing any department, office, initiative, student organization at Cummings School, linked to a elist email address, and registered with the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Personal social media account: an account owned and maintained by a Cummings School employee or student for personal use, not linked to a email address, and/or not registered with the Office of Communications and Marketing. This includes all social media accounts whether open or considered limited to a restricted group.

Social media platforms: primarily Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, but also, Discord, Nextdoor, Pinterest, Reddit, Snap Chat, TikTok, Tumblr, Vimeo, WeChat, WhatsApp, and many others. For the purposes of this policy, Linkedin, Researchgate, and Googlescholar are concerned professional social networking accounts.

Handle: the account name or title, usually begins with ‘@’.

Bio: the description or introduction to the account.

Profile icon: photo/image used to identify the account.

Cover photo: additional photo/image on Facebook and Twitter.

Social media post: the content (text, photo, video, graphic) uploaded to an account. elist email address: a central email address specifically established for the social media account and accessible to multiple Cummings School employees and/or students for the purpose of managing the social media account.


  • Follow all applicable Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and Tufts University policies. This includes, but is not limited, to policies regarding maintaining client confidentiality, professionalism, conduct, ethics, sexual harassment, responsible use standards, social networking site guidelines, copyright, and intellectual property.
  • You are responsible for what you post both on both institutional and personal accounts.
  • Remember that once you publish something through social media, you lose a degree of control over your message. Before you post something, be certain that you are prepared to share it with a potential audience of millions.
  • Use good judgment and strive for accuracy in your communications; errors and omissions reflect poorly on both you and Cummings School and may result in liability for either/both parties.


Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine relies on its students, faculty, and staff to ensure the trust and the support of the communities it serves. While Cummings School encourages the use of social networking to enhance open communications with several key audiences, we expect these communications will reflect the highest standards of our institution and support the privacy and trust of our students, clients, and research partners.

Cummings School’s Social Media Policy is aligned with the social media policies of Tufts University, which advises social media users/developers to abide by all Tufts University policies governing employees, student privacy and confidentiality.

When posting to Cummings School social channels or on personal channels about Cummings School, follow all applicable university policies. This includes, but is not limited, to policies regarding maintaining client confidentiality, professionalism, conduct, ethics, sexual harassment, responsible use standards, social networking site guidelines, copyright, and intellectual property.

These Social Media guidelines provide guidance for use of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine institutional social media accounts (“institutional accounts”) and use of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine information or materials on personal social media accounts (“personal accounts”). Adhering to these guidelines will help to ensure that you uphold the reputation of the university, Cummings School, your colleagues, and yourself.

Anyone with questions regarding social media or posts may contact the Director of Communications and Marketing at

Institutional Social Media Accounts

An institutional social media account is one that is directly linked to the business and activities of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and managed by an employee or student.

Before contemplating the creation of an institutional social media account, please consider the maintenance, monitoring, and stewardship needs of an account and your department or organization’s resources.

  • Register all institutional social media accounts.
  • Create a elist email.
    • Add to elist email.
  • Social media account bios must state the accurate name of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the complete name of the department, office, laboratory, initiative, or student organization associated with the account.
  • Profile icons/images:
    • Only institutional accounts administered by the office of Commutations and Marketing may use a Cummings School logo as a profile icon/image.
    • All Tufts University branding policies must be followed (for example, the university seal cannot be used).
    • Please contact the Director of Communications and Marketing ( for assistance in choosing an appropriate icon.
  • Cover photos should be appropriate for the account and follow Tufts University and Cummings School photography policies and utilize Cummings School’s photo release.
  • Posts to institutional social media accounts must follow all Cummings School policies.
  • Please utilize all accessibility tools on social media platforms, in particular screen readers. Including a description of a photo or image in a post greatly enhances your audience engagement.
  • Posting photos to institutional accounts:
    • When in doubt about a photo or image, don’t post. Instead, send an inquiry to the Director of Communications and Marketing (
    • Do not post photos of Cummings School teaching and research animals (including cadavers or necropsy subjects or body parts) that are not already publicly available, unless approved by the Director of Communications and Marketing, Director of Animal Resources, or the Dean. You can assume that the blanket approvals for the personal accounts in the policy also apply to the institutional accounts.
    • Do not post any images of animals receiving clinical care in Cummings School hospitals or clinics, belonging to clients, or of clients themselves, unless Cummings School has permission in writing from the client (email is sufficient) and the posting has been approved by the director of the hospital or clinic and by the Director of Communications and Marketing.
    • Always utilize the Cummings School’s photo release form.
    • As appropriate, credit the photographer for any photo in a social media post.
  • In the event of an emergency/crisis situation:
    • All official School communication will be conveyed via official channels. Do not post emergency communications on institutional social media accounts unless instructed to do so specifically by the Director of Communications and Marketing or the Dean.
    • Account administrators should cease all social media posts and exchanges until the situation passes.
    • In times of uncertainty or urgency, always follow the lead of the School’s institutional accounts managed by the Office of Communications and Marketing. You may always share the posts of the School’s official social media accounts.
    • If your account becomes engaged in a controversial matter or you have inadvertently offended someone, contact the Director of Communications and Marketing ( for assistance.
  • General guidelines:
    • Institutional pages and handles should always be professional in look, tone, and content.
    • Do not post derogatory comments about fellow employees, students, competitors, clients, or anyone else.
    • Humor, memes, etc. can be used to great effectiveness, but can also offend some in your audience. Please be tame with attempts at humor.
    • Expressions of personal opinions related to non-Cummings-related topics (e.g., political positions) should not typically be posted to institutional accounts. It is especially important not to post personal views in such a way as to imply that they represent a position of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine or Tufts University.
    • Words, images, videos, and graphics should illustrate Cummings School’s robust community through respectful and inclusive posts. Post that insult, mock, or appear to be offensive are not appropriate.
    • Only post content Cummings School has permission to publish.

Personal Social Media Accounts

A personal account is one that an individual faculty, staff, and student may have to post personal items. The Cummings School Social Media Policy applies to posting of material related to Cummings School or Tufts University on personal accounts.

If you wish to engage on social media for professional purposes, it is recommended that you create separate accounts for your personal and professional uses. This setup protects both your personal opinions and Cummings School messaging. Any professional social media accounts are considered institutional accounts and should follow the policies and guidelines for such accounts.

  • A personal account does not need to be registered with Cummings School Office of Communication and Marketing.
  • If a personal account is used for business purposes, it becomes an institutional account and therefore must follow the Cummings School Social Media Policy and Guidelines for an institutional account.
  • A personal social media account should not use a Tufts email address.
  • Posting photos to personal accounts:
  • When in doubt about a photo or image, don’t post. Instead, send an inquiry to the Director of Communications and Marketing (
  • The following seconds provide guidance, but please make sure to use common sense and err on the side of caution when posting pictures.
    • Do not post images of research animals or subjects, client-donated cadaver or necropsy subjects, client-owned animals, wildlife in the clinic, volunteers, or cadavers.
    • Images of teaching animals owned, leased, or permanently housed by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine may be posted provided no invasive or active restraint procedures are being performed.
      1. An animal being held comfortably in a student’s arms or an animal in a halter that is slack would be examples of non-active restraint.
      2. Active restraint would include, for example, restraining a cat for a jugular blood draw or a tail jack on a heifer.
    • Images of teaching animals visible from public roadways or areas may be posted. Do not post images taken inside research areas and research housing facilities.
      1. “Research areas and research housing facilities” means spaces dedicated to research or research housing. It does not apply to pictures of laboratory spaces, as long as animals are not present or it is not a dedicated animal facility. It does not apply to hospital, clinic, or teaching spaces that may occasionally be used for research purposes.
      2. Pictures of the sheep barns and other large animal facilities that are visible from public roadways are acceptable
  • Pictures in any spaces in the LAMS facilities are not permitted.
  • You may, without restriction, post images of animal-related teaching activities, whether with Cummings School owned teaching animals or client-owned animals, that do not directly show identifiable animals and do not show any active procedures or consequences of procedures (i.e., an image may show a student doing surgery, but may not include the visible animal and/or the surgical site or body parts removed from an animal as part of the surgery).
    1. Identifiable animals mean that someone would be able to identify them as a specific animal. If only a small part (e.g., a leg) is visible, this would be acceptable.
    2. “Active procedures” typically refer to invasive procedures, as noted in bullet 3. For the purposes of our policy, pictures of rectal palpation would be considered acceptable. Pictures of castrations or spays would not, including showing the procedure itself (e.g., pictures of the actual surgery) or posting pictures of removed parts.
  • Pictures of blood drawing on animals also involve active restraint and is an active procedure, so would not be considered acceptable if the animals were visible. A picture of a student preparing to draw blood would be acceptable, and a non-identifiable animal (or part thereof) could be in the picture.
  • Do not post images or information about client-owned animals or the clients themselves at any time. The one exception is that posting of images of clients or animal-owners (including students) with their animals (and including yourself) is permissible if you have their written permission (email is sufficient), the animals are not in a hospital/clinic treatment or hospitalization area (images in a waiting area, exam room, dedicated teaching area, or outside are acceptable), no procedures are being performed at the time, and no other parts of this policy are violated.
  • If posting images of students, staff, or faculty from non-public situations, you should have their permission (verbal permission is sufficient) to do so.
  • Posting or re-posting of images that are publicly available (for example, in publications, on the Cummings School website) is permissible, as long as all copyright rules are respected, and sources are acknowledged.

‘Views are my own’
In today’s social media climate, stating your relationship to Cummings School or Tufts University on your personal social media may create confusion when it comes to sharing personal opinions.

  • Your audience may assume that you are posting to that account for professional reasons and your personal opinions can then be attributed as opinions shared by Cummings School and Tufts University.
  • Using the statement (or something similar to) ‘views are my own’ may appear to cover a personal opinion. Unfortunately, from a public relations perspective, this statement does not exempt Cummings School from your opinions in the social universe and may cause confusion with the School’s audience.

Whom to Contact

For questions related to the Social Media Policy and Guidelines, please the Director of Communications and Marketing at


Thank you and special acknowledgement to the Faculty Council Social Media Subcommittee and the Marketing Advisory Committee for their efforts in researching and providing feedback for the Cummings School Social Media Guidelines.