Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Social Work and Social Media

Hello and happy summer! 

After a post-graduation hiatus we're back, starting with new student handbook information.  

The new section updates the handbook to include the Department of Social Work’s expectations for students and online conduct. You probably already have some sense of what is and what is not appropriate to post to Facebook or Twitter, and we all learn the consequences of Reply-All instead of Reply at some point. 

Fundamentally, your sense of ethics, which is crucial to becoming an effective social worker, will be the best guide when your cursor hovers over the “submit” button. The handbook now addresses the department’s position on the basics of acceptable behavior to give students clear rules for avoiding unethical or damaging actions. It also includes broader guides to help you think about and manage your online reputation now and in the future.

Guidelines for Online Professional or Personal Activity

                Online social media allow Department of Social Work faculty, staff, and students to engage in professional and personal conversations. These guidelines apply to faculty, staff and students who identify themselves with Ashland University and/or use their Ashland email address in social media platforms such as professional society blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. for deliberate professional engagement or casual conversation. These guidelines apply to private and password protected social media platforms as well as to open social platforms.

Use Disclaimers

Make it clear that the views you are expressing are yours alone and not necessarily those of the Ashland University Department of Social Work. If you discuss the Ashland University Department of Social Work, then you have a duty to disclose your role within the organization.

Be Accurate

Even though the material you post may be primarily made up of personal opinion, do your research well and check that your facts are accurate. Make sure you have permission to post any copyrighted or confidential information (e.g., images) to your blog or Facebook page. 

Be Considerate

Remember that anyone, including your colleagues, clients, future employers and professors, may be actively reading what you publish online. In choosing your words and your content, it’s a good practice to imagine that your supervisor and your family are reading everything you post. It’s all about judgment: using social media in an unprofessional manner is treated as seriously as unprofessional behavior in the classroom or agency.  If you witness illegal, unsafe or unethical conduct, you can call the Ashland University Department of Social Work Chairperson or the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Reporting issues publicly online may do more harm than good; worse yet, problems may not get to the attention of the people who can correct them. The Ashland University Department of Social Work wants to hear your concerns and will follow up and investigate any issues brought to our attention.

Don’t Reveal Confidential Information

If you do blog about the Ashland University Department of Social Work, by all means talk about your good work and make meaningful connections with your readers, but you must accomplish this while respecting the privacy and confidentiality of clients and colleagues. When making decisions about your online content, use good judgment, follow HIPAA regulations and consult the Ashland University Student Handbook.
Clients and stakeholders should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Never identify a client by name without permission, and never discuss the confidential details of a client. Be sensitive to matters of civic pride when discussing specific localities and protect the dignity of clients by refraining from discussions that reflect negatively on them, even if they are not named.

Respect Copyright Laws

Show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others, including Ashland University’s own trademarks. For reference, see the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Guidance.                                                     

Our policy was adapted from the American Red Cross’s online communication guidelines. Their original policy can be found here as can social media guides from a variety of companies from Best Buy to the Mayo Clinic.