Longton Rugby Club
Social Media Policy and Procedure
Social networking sites (such as, but not exclusively, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc.) are a useful way for keeping in touch with friends, family, and club members, and are also a great way to exchange information. However, members must not forget that what they post on social networking sites may be seen across these networks and are reminded that they must not bring Longton Rugby Club (LRUFC) into disrepute or cause any distress to any other member.
LRUFC recognises that some members will make use of social networking in their own time, using their own equipment. Whilst there is no intention to restrict any proper and sensible exercise of the individual’s rights and freedoms, it is expected that all members will conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid bringing LRUFC into disrepute or compromising its effectiveness.
This policy has been prepared to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and interests of LRUFC, the committee and members it serves. LRUFC also supports the RFU guidance on social media. (Appendix 1)
This policy only applies to club related issues and is not meant to infringe upon an individual’s personal interaction or commentary online. However, all members are asked to respect the privacy, confidentiality, and propriety of LRUFC and those working on their behalf, and not post anything that might be considered to breach this. Members should take care when discussing information relating to LRUFC affairs as discussions can sometimes be misinterpreted and could potentially put other members or the public at large at risk.
All members should be aware that any inappropriate posts made to social media sites could lead to disciplinary action and in extreme cases, civil and criminal liability. All members must take account of the following before posting to the internet, including engaging in blogging or the use of forums, video sharing or social networking sites.
Whilst it is a personal decision, it is suggested that members do not disclose their position as a LRUFC employee or volunteer. Members should be aware that the committee takes the posting at any time of offensive material, and the harassment, bullying or victimisation of members via the Internet and social networking sites very seriously.
The use of social media to target individuals, whether for grooming or the increasing instances of cyber bullying, has created a set of risks to vulnerable people which is a real challenge to manage. Everyone is creating potential risk to themselves when they post personal information. For example:
- If a person posts that they are going on holiday and has their address on their page, it is easy to see that there is an increased risk to their property whilst they are away. If a top athlete posts that they are tired, injured, worried about an upcoming event, they are giving their opponents information which provides them with physiological advantages that they would not have otherwise gained.
Thinking before you post will help reduce these sorts of unforeseen consequences.
A breach of any of the following may lead to disciplinary action being taken by the club’s disciplinary committee and/or the RFU and/or Staffordshire RU up to and including expulsion.
- Members must not divulge any confidential information or information belonging to LRUFC which is not in the public domain or expand upon such information already available in the public domain.
- If any member disclose that they are attached to LRUFC then it must be made clear that any views expressed do not represent the official position of LRUFC but are the views of the individual.
- Members cannot write a blog in an official capacity unless sanctioned and minuted by the general or rugby committee, i.e. representing the views of LRUFC. If, however, they give an opinion as an experienced person in a particular field, they must state that this is solely their view and not the view of LRUFC. Members must not use any LRUFC logo or other copyright material that infers official endorsement of the photograph, article, document, or opinion.
- Any photographs of LRUFC staff in club garments must not be used to harass, intimidate, or bring the club into disrepute.
- Members must not display offensive images or make offensive comments, or in any way harass, intimidate, bully, victimise or discriminate against other members.
All Facebook groups and twitter accounts are to have at least two administrators or admins whose role is to monitor content and to take the appropriate action should a post/tweet breach the clubs social media policy. One of these should be the Club Safeguarding Officer or assistant.
Committee Members Responsibilities
All committee members have a duty to implement this policy and act if they become aware of any breach of this policy and should explain the club’s policy on the use of social media and networking sites and take steps to promote awareness of this policy.
What to do if you believe you are being harassed, bullied, or victimised via a social networking site
If you are a member who believes that you are being harassed, bullied, or victimised because of another member’s post to an Internet site, it is open to you to take the necessary action. Staff should contact the Club Safeguarding Officer or assistant for support and guidance on the informal and formal action that can be taken.
Consequences of not following this policy
Any member found to be in breach of the above might be subject to disciplinary action being taken by the club’s disciplinary committee and/or the RFU and/or Staffordshire RU up to and including expulsion.
If they are also found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 or other relevant legislation or copyright, it could lead to criminal proceedings and
Guidance for the use of Social Media
Social networks are the communities which develop on media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Adults and young persons should not be “friending” or “following” each other outside of the rugby relationship. Communications for rugby purposes should be through sites/identities which are public and managed by the club. This applies to adults in a position of trust as well as adults who come into contact with young people through rugby.
LRUFC members in a position of trust and/or responsibility should not be in contact with young people through social networking sites if they hold such a position in respect of that individual young person.
Should a young person in the club request to become a named friend on your social networking site or request that you become a named friend on the young person’s social networking site you should decline if:
- You are in a position of responsibility in respect of that child.
- You hold a position of trust and responsibility in the club.
- Your contact with the child is through Longton rugby club and the parent/guardian of the child does not give their consent to such contact.
The social network site should never be used as a medium by which to abuse or criticise RFU members or Longton Rugby Club, and to do so maybe in breach of RFU and club Rules and Regulations.
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility as is creating and maintaining the high standards of behaviour expected of people in the sport of rugby. For these reasons everyone is encouraged to report concerns of misuse or inappropriate usage of social media. The first point of contact will usually be the Club Safeguarding Officer or assistant.
Any cases of cyberbullying and/or trolling will be taken seriously when reported. Evidence of cyberbullying and/or trolling must be kept and reported to the Club Safeguarding Officer or assistant so that appropriate support for the individual can be given and action against the perpetrator(s) can be taken.
Threats of immediate harm or danger should be reported to the Police and/or Children’s Services.
The publishing of a photograph or video footage on a social networking site is governed by the same requirements as those contained in the RFU Photography Policy and Longton Rugby Club safeguarding policy. Recommendations are:
- Use group images rather than individual images. Do not use the child’s name.
- Notification and a consent request should be included in the information given to junior members and their parents upon joining the club.
- If consent was given initially but is subsequently withdrawn by parent or child, the image should be removed from the site.
RFU Guidance: Social media for clubs
Social networking, such as Twitter, Facebook, internet blogs and other online sites, offers tremendous opportunities for rugby to communicate and engage with a growing audience as well as its existing members, supporters, and players.
The RFU is keen to promote the safe and responsible use of social networking technology but also to make its members aware of the potential risks and to share best practice.
Participants should be aware that comments, which bring the game into disrepute, or are threatening, abusive, indecent, or insulting, might lead to disciplinary action.
Comments that include a reference to a person’s ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation, or disability may attract a high disciplinary sanction.
Comments can also attract civil and criminal action. Nearly 5,000 offences involving Facebook and Twitter were reported to police in 2012 and 653 people charged.
- These are public forums, so treat them as such
- Individuals and organisations are strictly responsible for any posting on his/their account/s
- Re-posting or re-tweeting inappropriate content represents an endorsement of that content and can be actionable
- Do not use abusive, derogatory, vulgar, or sexual language
- Do not criticise or imply bias in match officials
- At all times, exercise discretion and respect for clubs, players, fans, and the game’s partners
- Deleting or apologising publicly for an improper posting does not prevent disciplinary action being taken
- Consider “protecting” Tweets and changing security/visibility of Facebook accounts
Clubs and Constituent Bodies
Clubs and Constituent Bodies (CBs) should be aware that they can be vicariously liable for material published by employees during their employment, for example on an official website, Facebook site or Twitter feed, or published by employees outside work via a work email address or a work Twitter handle.
Clubs can also be liable for third party comments and postings made in their website forums or on their Facebook pages.
We recommend that clubs and CBs:
- Clearly identify who is responsible for posting and maintaining social networking and internet sites
- Set standards for content generated in line with the RFU’s Core Values and the guidelines above
- Establish protocols for monitoring output, moderating content in online forums and removing offensive postings
- Hold members to account for any breaches
The RFU’s Safeguarding Policy advises against coaches having direct personal communication with children unless in exceptional circumstances and coaches and club officials should not communicate with children through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, nor should they be “friends” with children or comment on their status.
The RFU works closely with the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, which provides comprehensive guidance and resources relating to this issue here (PDF332kB)
Players and officials
Individuals need to understand that they are personally responsible and liable for their comments and postings. At all times you should exercise discretion and be respectful of other players, teams, officials, organisations, and brands. What you regard as “banter” could be regarded as embarrassing or hurtful by a wider audience and bring the game into disrepute.
In short, follow the general guidelines above and:
- Don’t comment if you have any concerns about the consequences
- Don’t link to unsuitable content
- Don’t get into disputes with audience
- Don’t share or elicit personal detail
- Do show your personality and be approachable
- Do share your achievements
- Do let people know what it is like to be a player/official
- Do post regular comments to grow and engage with an audience