This statement was prepared as part of the APA's Code of Conduct and approved by the board of officers in 2016.
APA members should remain aware at all times that statements made online or through social media are easily misunderstood due to lack of contextual clues, and can easily become overblown. In addition, members have a special responsibility with regard to potential liability issues for the institutions for which they work and are encouraged to inform themselves about and comply with all relevant institutional policies. While respect for academic freedom and freedom of speech are paramount, members should keep in mind the following guidelines when making use of institutional equipment, servers, websites, and email for engaging with social media:
- In a professional setting, it’s best to avoid ad hominem arguments and personal attacks, especially if they amount to slander, libel, and/or sexual harassment.
- Language used in professional electronic communications should use the same kind of inclusive language and reflect the same kind of mutual respect as is expected in the classroom or other face-to-face interactions.
- In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other professional standards, confidentiality should always be respected.
- While sometimes unavoidable, anonymity in online posts should be used judiciously.
- Instructors who participate in social media should be careful that interactions with students at all levels be professional, courteous, and commensurate with one's obligations as a teacher in a position of authority, despite the typical informality of these media.