With the overwhelming presence of social media, professionals need to be careful that they present themselves professionally both in person and online. There was recently a nurse in Saskatchewan who has been charged with professional misconduct due to a Facebook post criticizing the care her family member received in a care facility. Even though she was off-duty and not an employee of that facility, she has been accused of violating confidentiality, tarnishing the reputation of facility and staff, failing to first obtain all the facts, and used status of registered nurse of personal purposes under the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatoon/not-guilty-plea-from-sask-nurse-over-facebook-post-1.3449537) Similar situations have happened with teachers in BC, where inappropriate photos on Facebook lead to complaints to the school board and disciplinary action.
What happens on Facebook (or other social media) should stay on Facebook…but it doesn’t! As professionals, regardless of our field of work, we need to always present ourselves in a way that would be acceptable to our “colleagues, students, and supervisors—and your mother” (as suggested by the National Education Association in the US, from https://bctf.ca/publications/NewsmagArticle.aspx?id=16780). Employees need to educate themselves on their workplace policies around code of conduct and professionalism, and be well aware that social media is not simply a personal outlet – it can have a huge impact on professional life. If you are doubting whether or not you feel something is appropriate for social media, it probably isn’t appropriate. I can understand the argument that social media is “personal”, but with the two instances mentioned above, it’s in our best interest to also keep it professional.