5 more ways Facebook can get you fired

Remember that there are always consequences to what you post online on social media sites

By Steve Wirth and Doug Wolfberg
Page, Wolfberg & Wirth LLC

As outlined in our previous article, there has been several cases in recent months where firefighters and EMS providers have landed in trouble for posting what their employer deemed inappropriate content online.

There's a range of things you need to bear in mind when submitting images, comments or videos to social media websites. If you don't follow them, you could be at risk of serious disciplinary action.

1. Check your privacy and security settings and know their rules
Social networking blurs many of the traditional boundaries between internal and external communications. Be thoughtful about what you post — particularly on Facebook or other external networks. You must make sure you do not disclose or use confidential patient information or proprietary information about your department in any online social network. For example, ask permission before posting someone's picture in a social network or publishing in a blog or status a conversation that was meant to be private.

2. Respect your audience and your coworkers
Your department or agency is a community service organization that is always "under the microscope." The staff members and patients reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. Avoid any ethnic slurs, personal insults, harassing comments, or obscenities. It is fine to disagree, but be careful about using your blog or Facebook page to air your differences in an inappropriate manner.

3. Don't pick fights or argue back and forth
When you see misrepresentations made about your department by the news media or by others, you may want to respond. But it might be safer to notify your agency first before you react with your own posting. If your department wants you to respond, always do so with respect, and stick to the facts and identify your affiliation with your agency. Avoid unnecessary or unproductive arguments. Online "brawls" may draw traffic and comments, but nobody wins in the end. Don't try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates.

4. Correct your mistakes
If you make an error in fact or misstate information you post, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. In a blog or posting, if you choose to modify an earlier blog or post, make it clear that you have done so.

5. Use your best judgment and apply 'common sense'
Remember that there are always consequences to what you post. If you're about to post something that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, review the suggestions outlined in this and our previous article and think about why you feel uncomfortable. What your gut tells you initially is often correct. If you're still unsure, and what you want to post is related to your department, you might want to discuss it with a supervisor or a trusted friend first. Ultimately you have sole responsibility for what you post to your blog or publish in any form of online social media.


IBM Social Computing Guidelines, www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html

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