Social Media and Free Expression

If you are a student who manages or contributes to an official Tufts University social media channel, then you are required to adhere to the university’s Policy for Official Social Media Accounts. These include, but are not limited to, channels for schools, academic departments, and offices at Tufts. Social media channels can include blogs, wikis, and social networks such as TikTok, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, and LinkedIn.

For your personal social media channels, we are providing you with a few top-level, common sense considerations.

Be accurate, accountable, and factual

  • In the digital world, what you post online can define who you are. 
  • Being a good digital citizen means positively contributing to the digital space, respecting other people’s views even if you don’t agree, and reporting issues that disrupt a positive digital environment. 
  • Your digital footprint or reputation is left online when you post on blogs, upload videos and pictures, or even leave comments on websites. 
  • No matter what your online actions are, consider that what you share can leave a permanent record even if you click delete. Therefore, be extra careful about what you share online and with whom you share content.
  • It is important to represent yourself in a positive manner online. This means thinking about what you post online and considering how it would look to people you know and don’t know.
  • Be cognizant of your tone. Sarcasm and jokes can be difficult to convey in writing.
  • Be responsible for the content you post. Only post accurate information, and be accountable for what you say.
  • If you make a mistake, post a correction as soon as you can.

You and your posts are not as anonymous as you may think

  • Respect is a two-way street between you and others. Would your post or comment look good to a future employer? Your parents and family? Your friends?
  • Assume that someone is always observing, monitoring, and potentially recording your online actions, even if your profile is set to “private,” you are posting on your “close friends” story, or you are sending a private message.
  • There is no such thing as being anonymous online. Through an internet IP address, your identity can always be determined.
  • Commenting anonymously or under a pseudonym does not give you a free pass to post rude, hurtful, or untrue things.
  • Protect your identity. Don’t post information or photographs that criminals can use against you, such as your date of birth, personal contact information, or when you are away from home.

Cyberbullying is a crime

  • Cyberbullying happens when a person bullies another through electronic technology. There can be a fine line when it comes to cyberbullying. What you consider to be harmless teasing can be hurtful to others.
  • Never publish private or identifying information about another person without their permission (known as doxxing).

How to Protect Yourself Against Doxxing 

What Is Doxxing? 

Doxxing is a form of harassment that involves publicly exposing someone's private information, such as their name, address, job, or other identifying info without their consent. 

  • Doxxing aims to shame, humiliate, embarrass, bully, harass, or otherwise harm individuals and is increasingly used to attack people with opposing viewpoints.
  • The term derives from the phrase "dropping dox (documents)" and the act typically involves gathering information, images, or videos from across multiple platforms, including social media, public databases, hacking private sources, and social engineering attacks.

Protect Your Information and Accounts 

Doxxers frequently collect information from publicly available sources, hack websites and companies that store your information for legitimate purposes, buy information from the dark web or data brokers, or compromise your accounts and networks. You can take steps that reduce your risk of being doxxed. 

Adjust your social media account settings. 

  • Keep your profiles, usernames, and handles private.
  • Avoid using your address, place of work, contact information, and specific locations in your profile and posts. 
  • Make your posts visible only to people you know.
  • Avoid sharing sensitive personal information online.

Reduce your online footprint.  

  • Close unused accounts and ask for your information to be deleted.
  • Search for yourself online to see what personal information in search results and on websites. When possible, request corrections or deletions. 
  • Take steps to remove your personal data from public data broker websites.

Be careful with public networks. 

  • If you must use public wi-fi:
    • Use a VPN.
    • Make sure you’re logging into a legitimate wireless network and not an evil twin.
    • Watch out for shoulder surfers.
    • Lock your computer or phone whenever you aren’t using it – the best way to compromise a computer is to grab it while a user is logged in.

Secure your login and domain information. 

  • Enable Multi-Factor authentication wherever possible and use an authenticator app instead of texts, phone calls, or emails.
  • Create a PIN for your SIM cards. 
  • Learn about common features of social engineering, such as phishing, and how to avoid it.
  • Use strong passwords and a password manager.
  • Vary your usernames and passwords across platforms.
  • Change your passwords periodically.
  • Hide domain registration information from WHOIS (database of all registered domain names).

Additional Resources 

Learn more about social media from University Communications and Marketing