#10minTues : Facebook privacy

It's Tuesday! Went to bed late but haven't been able to sleep since 5am! This afternoon is going to be unpleasant!

 Figured I would get my entry done now because I'm pretty sure that I will crash this evening. It's been a very busy time lately and only getting busier. I thought I would have this week to finish some EI visits, get the house clean, and pack for our trip- but when I get prn calls and calls for new evals, I can't very well turn them away, so what was already a busy week is now a PACKED week.

 I'm working on contacting companies to get donations for cool Blogiversary giveaways in January, which would obviously be easier if I had a little more down time but I think it will get done. Looking for apps, small items, coupons. I was hoping to be able to do an entry or two on "my favorite things" but I think I have expensive tastes! Example- my grandma loves her HandyBar, which I got for $10 at #aota12, but they sell for $25 and up online.

 Main topic today: Facebook, and social media use in general. My buddy Erik, aka @armyOTguy will tell you to be active on social media as an OT practitioner and to be consciously promoting a personal brand. That is a good thing to do, and could be effective marketing for both you and the profession. However, based on my own personal experience and my Facebook newsfeed, I would not advise that. Students are educated on HIPAA and privacy to the point of getting glazed over whenever it's mentioned. But it would appear that despite that, it takes social media users some time of trial and error to really figure out where that boundary is- it's usually more restrictive than they think. Similarly, students are educated on professionalism and professional behaviors, but may not be prepared to apply those to an abstract social media setting. 

Personally, I kept a blog intermittently during college. It faded during OT school because I was locked in the health sciences building for 40 hours a week. But I know that there were times when I was aggravated with a class or concept or group project and had a post that was probably less than professional regarding OT or the program. We didn't get Facebook at my school until I was already in OT school for awhile, so we didn't have too many problems there, but did have a tongue-in-cheek OT facebook group that probably wouldn't have gone over well with the administration. And we definitely had people who replied-all on the listserv and got in serious trouble for one reason or another.

 As surprising as it could be, there were several of us in our small class who had contact with "local celebrities" (for lack of a better word) and I think that the fact that we weren't yet immersed in social media culture played a factor in keeping each person out of privacy violations and associated trouble.

 That was my (ever aging) experience. Now I have some Facebook friends who are OT students (usually because they were my friends before they went into OT school, I don't have a crazy Facebook following). And sometimes it is cringe-worthy to see their updates about school. Even something that may seem benign to you may not be so construed by your program, future employer, classmates. Examples (straight from my feed, mind you!) include: calling professors clueless; saying portions of your program are useless; fieldwork complaints; patient descriptions; assignment gripes; various program criticisms... you get the drift. None of these were terrible glaring violations ("I think Mrs Smith in room 33 has the ugliest scar evar!") but they do not promote a positive image of the poster or the profession. These are not from clueless people, but just people who don't have a good understanding of professional representation yet. It (should) come with time.

 I reiterate- it should come with time. Having a job and a license increases many peoples' sense of responsibility for their actions. But my suggestion to you is to take steps to be extra careful.

  •  First of all, don't post things that you aren't OK with every person in the world reading. Mom, dad, program director, dean of admissions, fieldwork CI, future employer, and the patient themselves. 
  • Remember that it is not all about you. Each person (including the patient!!) is entitled to their story. Just because you would be ok with someone sharing your story if the situations were reversed does not give you permission to post theirs.
  • Thinking and delaying before posting to twitter or facebook will probably help you self-censor. Things that seem fine in the heat of the moment may not seem so later in the day after you've had some time to consider.
  • Button down your privacy settings. There are times when I turn off the ability for people to even search for my existence on Facebook. (clearly, I have a social media presence, but I try to keep personal and professional separate on a few platforms)
So that's my soapbox. I welcome other peoples' opinions on these issues, but my personal recommendation is to err on the side of caution to avoid issues down the line. Time's up! a lot closer to 30 minutes than 10... 

No comments: