Social Media Standards and Guidelines
VTH Policy #MR211
Implementation Date: 9/29/2022
Date of Last Revision: 9/29/2022
Next Review Due: 9/28/2025
Reviewed by VTH Administrative Team: 9/21/2022
Reviewed by VTH Board: N/A
Reviewed by Legal Counsel: N/A
Reviewed by Biosecurity Subcommittee: N/A
Subject to modification by the VTH Director without approval.
Use of visual and audio media (photos, recordings, videos, etc.) of client and University-owned animals on social media sites is prohibited unless authorization from the client/owner is provided and documented in the health information system (HIS), and Office of Marketing and Communication has approved the content. Visual media that is graphic in nature, even if the patient is unidentifiable, should at no time be placed on social media. This policy applies to all College of Veterinary Medicine members including faculty and staff, in addition to the students. Anyone violating the social media policy is subject to discipline according to their personnel status.
The purpose of this policy is to provide standards and guidelines for social media communication and utilization of visual media that is related to client/patient confidentiality and/or institutional reputation. This is to ensure the privacy of our clients and patients by upholding confidentiality guidelines and preventing unauthorized release of client information, while at the same time maintaining professionalism and institutional integrity. It is expected that the use of social media communications will reflect the highest standards of our own institution and support the privacy and trust of our students, clients, and staff. Confidentiality guidelines are described in both the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics and the Illinois Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Practice Act of 2004 (225 ILCS 115).
Procedure (if applicable)
- At check-in, owners sign an Admission Consent form, which states that they give permission to the Board of Trustees of The University of Illinois to use the image, likeness, photograph, audio and/or visual recording, and/or name (collectively, likeness) of their animal(s). It states that they understand the University may use the likeness for educational and promotional activities only.
a) If owners wish to opt-out of the above, it is their responsibility to request, complete, and return an Opt-Out Likeness Policy Form. Therefore, visual media of their animal cannot be used in any context.
b) If consent is given, it must be documented in the client communication section of the HIS.
- Consent from the owner must be obtained and documented in the client communication section of the HIS, if visual media is desired to be used on social media sites.
a) If the selected visual media is approved by the client/owner to be used on social media, and consent is documented appropriately, comments pertaining to the visual media on social media must maintain professionalism and institutional integrity, not being that which can be construed as unprofessional, defamatory, obscene, or the official opinion or official endorsement of the College or University.
b) The social media posting must state that that it is with owner consent.
- Taking of images is allowed, but with the following precautions:
a) It cannot impact patient care
b) It must be done with respect to the subject
- Visual media of deceased patients, or graphic images, even if the patient is unidentifiable, should at no time be placed on social media sites to maintain professionalism and institutional integrity.
- If an individual would like one of their images considered for sharing on VTH social media sites, the image must be forwarded to the Office of Marketing and Communication (firstname.lastname@example.org) for consideration. Once approved, it can be used on VTH social media pages and staff/students can share the post on their personal page and can tag themselves, if desired.
- Description of personal information (i.e., name, likeness, contact information) about students, staff, clients, or research partners without their consent is prohibited.
Directory for verified official UIUC Social Media accounts:
Release Forms – Public Affairs (illinois.edu)
Social Media Comment Policy:
Social Media Comment Policy - University of Illinois System (uillinois.edu)
University of Illinois Policy for Publishing on the Internet:
Policy for Publishing on the Internet - EVPAA (uillinois.edu)
UIllinois Public Affairs: Social Media Best Practices
Social Media Best Practices – Public Affairs (illinois.edu)
Definitions (if applicable)
Social media sites – Interactive computer-based technologies that facilitate the sharing of information via virtual communities and networks. These include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube.
HIS – Health Information System
Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH): The collective clinical services of the Large Animal Clinic, Midwest Equine, the Small Animal Clinic, and the Veterinary Medicine South Clinic.