Mon 24 Feb 2020 13:55

Social Media Policy & Guidelines


Author: Paul Lazarus

Revision Date: 4th November 2018



Wanstead RFC is committed to making the best use of all available technology and innovation to improve the way we do business.  This includes using all reasonable and cost-effective means to improve the way we communicate, reach out and interact with the different communities we serve. 

Social Media is the term commonly applied to web-based tools which allow users to interact with each other, share information, opinions, knowledge and interests online.  As the name applies, social medial involves the building of online communities or networks to encourage participation and engagement. 

These platforms of communication can be used to advance the Club in a positive, promotional way.  However, the practical application of such technology by Wanstead RFC is continually developing and there are many potential issues to consider – both as individual members and as a Club. 

These guidelines aim to provide club members and individual employees with information concerning the use or, or the development of, any social media application, and to help them get the best out of the tools available whilst maintaining a safe professional environment and protecting themselves, as well as the club. The guidelines also include specific advice on safe use/application of social media for young persons (U18).

The guidelines for young persons should be read in conjunction with the club safeguarding policy.


Definition of Social Media

For the purposes of these guidelines, social media is a type of interactive online media that allows parties to communicate instantly with each other or to share data in a public forum.  This includes e-mail, internet, online social forums, blogs, video and image sharing websites and similar facilities which can be uploading by using smart phones, laptops and handheld computers.


Club members should be aware that there are many more examples of social media than can be listed here and this is a constantly changing area. Members should follow these guidelines in relation to any social media that they use, in direct or indirect matters that concern the club or any of the club membership. 

Use of Social Media

Common sense always prevails; members should treat the information that they post in the same way as if it were personal information relating to you/them.  They should also treat ‘electronic material’ as they would ‘non-electronic material’.

Information published on the Internet (e.g. club website) including that in Social Networking Sites and blogs should be considered to be permanently published.  It is almost impossible to remove information once it has been posted – even when it seems to have been taken down.

Members may contribute to the club’s social media activities, for example by writing blogs, managing a social media account and running an official social communications account for the club in accordance with the standards defined by the club.

Club members must be aware at all times that, while contributing to Wanstead RFC’s social media activities, they are representing the Club with every posting.  It is important that they take care when expressing personal opinions about the Club.


Monitoring Use of Social Media at Work and Restrictions of Use

Wanstead RFC Management Committee reserves the right to monitor postings on club social media platforms. The Club considers that valid reasons for checking social media postings include suspicions that a member has: 

  • Acted in a way that is in breach of these guidelines and clauses set out in this document
  • Access to particular social media websites may be withdrawn in any case of misuse. 

Members must not engage in bullying, spamming, illegal behaviour, malicious blogging or similar antisocial behaviours.   Members who engage in antisocial behaviours on a social networking or a blogging site that have negative ramifications within the club, or the RFU and its constituent bodies, may be subject to disciplinary action or dismissal from the club membership.

Members are also advised never to post provocative pictures of themselves or anyone else.  Remember to check the background of a picture also.

It is important to also be aware that

  • When an individual chooses to go ‘public’ with opinions via a blog, Social Networking Site, or a personal web site, they are legally responsible for their commentary. Individuals can be held personally liable for any commentary deemed to be defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous.  Outside parties can pursue legal action against you for postings.
  • Media should not breach confidentiality of either the Club or its Members.
  • That confidential information or intellectual property* is owned by Wanstead RFC and should not be released publicly.
  • Information should not be disclosed relating to a third party (e.g. contact information relating to a fellow member) or organisation, without their explicit permission.
  • Communication of information relating to the Club’s internal workings, future business plans, past business plans or any other operational aspect is not acceptable.
  • Information posted is not discriminatory against or bullying or harassing of an individual. The Club does not in any circumstances accept/condone cyber bullying.
  • You should not make offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender reassignment, race (including nationality), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief or age.
  • Ensure words and language used is appropriate to the audience and does not cause offence.
  • You should not bring Wanstead RFC into disrepute which may include, but not limited to
    • Criticising or arguing with customers, colleagues, fellow members or competitors, or;
    • Making defamatory comments about individuals or other organisations or groups; or
    • Posting images that are inappropriate or links to inappropriate content or;
    • Breach copyright by using someone else’s images or written content without permission or failing to give acknowledgement where permission has been given to reproduce something.


Social Media in Your Personal Life

Wanstead RFC recognises that many members make use of social media in a personal capacity.  While they are not acting on behalf of the Club, members must be aware that they can damage the Club reputation and image if they are recognised as being one of our members.

Members are allowed to say that they have an involvement with Wanstead RFC, which recognises that it is natural for them sometimes to want to discuss their work/involvement on social media. 

It is important to regularly ensure that you update and check the privacy settings on your social networking profile as they change.


Disciplinary Action over Social Media Use

All members are required to adhere to these guidelines.  Members and club employees should be aware that use of social media in a way that may be deemed as deliberate or inadvertent misuse which could be a breach of these guidelines, may lead to disciplinary action.  Serious breaches of these guidelines, for example incidents of bullying of colleagues or social media activity causing serious damage to the Club may constitute gross misconduct and may lead to disciplinary action up to and including withdrawal of membership, or in the case of staff - dismissal.

Externally, if it is believed that there has been a serious breach of civil law police may be involved.  The Club will deal with the incident internally and may suspend membership whilst the Club carries out its own investigation.  In extreme cases, the police will deal with their own investigation and will follow through with their own course of action.

The Club Management Committee will always be notified of any allegation made relating to misuse of social media.

Public Interest Disclosure (‘Whistleblowing’)

Where a club member releases information through social media that may be considered as a public interest disclosure (whistleblowing), a full investigation will commence and then reviewed by the Management Committee to determine if the disclosure is upheld.  The Board of Directors will be notified in all situations.


Social networking sites are a hugely popular with young persons, allowing them to stay in touch with friends over chat, meeting new people with similar interests, and sharing photos and video materials. Used appropriately, social networks are a great place for young persons to demonstrate their creativity. There are however, inherent dangers, which Wanstead RFC wish to highlight and introduce fit for purpose safeguards. 

  • One in three 12 to 15 year olds may be in contact with people they don’t know on their social networking site profile.
  • 44% of children aged 10 to 13 use social networking sites.
  • 33% of children say their favourite online activity is chatting with friends.


Risks of social networking for children

The more that parents/coaches/responsible adults know about the kind of social networking sites that young people belong to and what information they like to share, the more likely they will be able to keep them safe:

  • The lower age limit for most social networking sites is 13.
  • The most popular social networks include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and SnapchatSites aimed at younger children, like Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters, also have a social networking element.
  • Many sites include an instant message function which allows private conversations between site members.
  • You can set privacy settings on most social networking sites so that only close friends can search for a particular young person, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted.
  • Most social networking sites have an app version available, meaning the young person will have access to the social network from their smartphone or tablet. Some app versions of social networks use the location of the phone.
  • Facebook has a setting that allows a young person to approve or dismiss tags that people add to their posts.
  • Information shared between friends can be easily copied and may spread widely.
  • It isn’t easy to take back information that has been posted – and can be impossible if it’s already been shared.
  • Not everyone a young person meets online will be who they say they are. Chatrooms and forums can connect people who are complete strangers and can be unmoderated.
  • Chatrooms and forums are one of the places online groomers go to connect with young people. They can also be places where people use a lot of sexual language and engage in online flirting. This is sometimes done through video chat programs such as Skype

How can I ensure my child is safe on social networks (general hints)?

  • Parents/coaches/responsible adults should educate themselves on what the various social networks and apps do (see resources section).
  • Agree with the young person when they can join a social networking site and create their profilewith them.
  • Help them set privacy settings at the strongest level. Sites can change privacy settings so make sure you stay up to date with them. 
  • Report people and inappropriate conversations to the site administrator via the ‘help’ or ‘report’ tab (if available) and always keep a copy of the conversation as evidence.
  • Teach the young person how to block or ignore people on social networking sites and online games and support them in knowing what they can do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable e.g. create a sentence with your child that they can use if they want to exit an uncomfortable conversation online.
  • Set boundaries about which sites they can use and for how long. Try to do this when they first start using social networking sites, so they get used to it from a young age.
  • Teach the young person never to share any personal details – this includes their password, real name, address and their school.
  • Use the site yourself – you or another trusted adult can become the young person’s friend on Facebook or follower on Twitter.
  • Explain that friends should be people they know – people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Talk to them about the risks involved with chatting to people they don’t know and sharing personal information with them.
  • Stress that meeting up with people they know online can be dangerous and that they should only do so with your permission and if you are present. 
  • Set rules about what they should and shouldn’t post.
  • Talk to the young person about the fact that what they post can’t always be taken back, and even if it can, it may already have been shared. This applies to webcams too – teach them to only use webcams with people they know and show them how to disable it.

What action(s) will Wanstead RFC take to ensure the safety of young people using social networks for club purposes?

As a club, we pride ourselves on our commitment to offering access to rugby and rugby related activities across a broad range of ages and ability levels. Our focus is on enjoyment, not on winning. Equally, we focus on teamwork and not the individual. However, the sport is competitive, and many young people are highly competitive by nature. We will not tolerate:

  • Any overt or covert bullying of any individual, based on ability, belief, orientation or any other type of discrimination. This could manifest in derogatory social media postings across a range of platforms. If brought to our attention, we will report the matter to the club executive, and an independent panel will consider the evidence and hold a meeting at the earliest opportunity, with the young person responsible for the inappropriate posting(s) and their responsible adult(s). The panel, which will include the safeguarding officer or her/his representative, will always seek as a first intervention, to educate and rehabilitate. However, if the incident is deemed to be of a serious nature, the panel reserve the right to recommend further sanctions to the club management committee, and ultimately to withdraw membership.
  • The posting of any inappropriate, inflammatory, or defamatory material – either written or pictorial. This could manifest in social media postings across a range of platforms. If brought to our attention, we will report the matter to the club executive, and an independent panel will consider the evidence and hold a meeting at the earliest opportunity, with the young person responsible for the inappropriate posting(s) and their responsible adult(s). The panel, which will include the safeguarding officer or her/his representative, will always seek as a first intervention, to educate and rehabilitate. However, if the incident is deemed to be of a serious nature, the panel reserve the right to recommend further sanctions to the club management committee, and ultimately to withdraw membership.
  • The posting of any type of material with the potential to radicalise young persons. This could manifest in social media postings across a range of platforms. This is sufficiently serious to trigger an immediate referral by the club management committee to the Police.


Social media resources:


Facebook has lots of safety information for parents. You can go straight to the comprehensive Family Safety Centre or you can find out how to report anything you think is inappropriate. This Parents’ Guide to Facebook gives a clear explanation about how Facebook works and how to protect your children’s privacy. You can also watch Antibullying Pro videos on what happens when you report and the new Privacy Check Tool.


Get advice keeping your family safe by using Twitter’s Safety Centre with a section dedicated for parents. You can also find out how to report abuse.


Find out how to set privacy settings on Instagram and report issues by clicking on Privacy and Safety Centre. ‘Report Something’ appears in the navigation on the left. We’ve also create a ‘how to guide‘ to give you more information about the app and how to set privacy settings to keep your child safe on the app.


Take a look at our how to guide to learn more about setting privacy settings on Snapchat to keep your children safe. We’ve also got a great video intro to Snapchat from our vlogger mum of two Adele Jennings. Snapchat have also created a safety centre for more information on how to stay safe.

UKCCIS Social Media guidance

This is the official practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media. Download the guide to get tips on how to keep children safe on social media platforms.

NSPCC Share Aware

The NSPCC’s Share Aware helps parents understand what children should and shouldn’t share online through social networks. Their updated Net Aware guide gives comprehensive information about the social networks that children commonly use. You can also download the app of the guide on Android and iOS.


This site has lots of advice about how to keep your child safe online. Look out for the social networking leaflet with clear simple guidance for parents and children and the video presentation which covers the main online safety areas including social networking. This Facebook checklist is a must-read for all parents and children.


This useful internet safety site has information for parents, teachers and children. Their Ready for social networking provides information about social networking and the risks.

CEOP: Webcams

CEOP has produced excellent guidance on the subject of webcams.


A website from Childnet International with case studies on the dangers of chatrooms, IM and getting too close to strangers met online.

O2 and NSPCC online safety helpline

From setting up parental controls to reporting online bullying, you can call the free helpline on 0808 800 5002 or visit an O2 Guru in store.