Social Media Guidelines for Employee and Faculty Personal Use

This document is intended to help guide Mass General employees with their personal use of social media, including:
  • Networking sites (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Blogs, wikis, online forums and message boards, (e.g. Twitter)
  • Virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life)
  • Photo and video sharing sites (i.e. Flickr, YouTube)

As new forms of social media emerge, we will periodically update these guidelines.

Rules of the Road (or) Policies and Procedures

  • Ensure that your social networking activity does not interfere with your work or workplace. Check with your manager if you have questions.
  • When you participate in social media, you need to be careful about the information you provide and to distinguish personal from professional comments.
  • In addition to following these guidelines, Mass General employees must adhere to the Terms and Conditions of Use that apply to all Mass General social media channels.
  • When using social media, be aware that existing hospital policies apply, in particular, those pertaining to patient privacy, Electronic Communications, Confidential Information, Standards of Behavior, Outside Contacts (Media, Law Enforcement and Regulators), Use of Hospital Name By External Organizations, Web Authoring, and Intellectual Property.
  • Use your personal email address (not your address) as your primary means of identification. Just as you would not use Mass General stationery for a letter to the editor with your personal views, do not use your Partners e-mail address to express your personal views.


  • Consider your content carefully...a posting on the Web lives forever. Be respectful and professional. A good rule of thumb is to post only something you would want your manager to see.
  • Be clear that your posts reflect your personal opinion; you do not speak for the hospital. Write in the first person (i.e. “In my opinion,” “I am not aware”). When your connection to Mass General is apparent, be clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Mass General (e.g. “It’s my personal opinion”). In those circumstances, you may want to include this disclaimer: “The views expressed on this [blog; website] are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.” Consider adding this language in an “About me” section of your blog or social networking profile.
  • If you mention Mass General or related matters, disclose your connection with Mass General and your role. Be professional and strive for accuracy in your communications; errors and omissions reflect poorly on you and on Mass General and may result in liability.
  • If your blog, posting or other online activities are inconsistent with, or would negatively impact Mass General’s reputation or brand, you should not refer to Mass General, or identify your connection to Mass General.

Guidelines for Official Mass General Use of Social Media

The following material is designed to assist those who plan to create a social media account under the auspices of an official Mass General entity, such as a clinical service or a research lab. The information includes guidelines for appropriate use of social media, comments on best practices, sample layouts, and practical tips for getting started. Please note that each Mass General entity is solely responsible for developing and maintaining its own social media.

  • For official business, use Partners email and choose a log-in and password that you will be able to share with the Social Media Registry (i.e. not a password you use for other purposes).
  • Include links to the Mass General Social Media Guidelines and the Mass General Privacy Policy in the “About Us” or other appropriate section of your social media.
  • For any social media ventures that are tied to fundraising or are intended to promote fundraising, you must coordinate with the Development Office.
  • Any posting of official hospital communications must be cleared by the Public Affairs Office.

Code of Ethics

As Mass General engages in conversations on the Internet, the following code of ethics applies, both in Mass General-sponsored sites and in comments on other sites:

  • Be clear about your role at Mass General.
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest.
  • Make every effort to ensure that your posts and comments are accurate and factual.
  • Acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly. To maintain integrity when corrections are made, preserve the original post and use strikethrough to show corrections.
  • Delete spam and/or comments that are off-topic.
  • Reply to emails and comments when appropriate.
  • Link directly to online references and original source materials.