For Topic 4 I have decided to focus my post on the ideas of confidentiality when professionals use social media. Perhaps they may be posting about their day or something that they experienced, and this may consequently break confidentiality. Key professions where this is likely to be an issue include healthcare professionals, the police and those in law professions, who have access to personal information that could help to identify individuals.
Figure 1: Key characteristics that can Reveal Someone’s Identity
Looking online for healthcare information is the third most popular use of the internet (Lachman, V. 2013), and with many healthcare professionals a part of social media, it’s easy to see how they may, often without thinking break confidentiality, when trying to help others, whilst at the same time fulfilling their moral obligations to help those in need. Consequently it’s important that there are guidelines and understood protocols for professionals when it comes to the use of social media.
In order to combat these issues, professionals such as nurses are issued with pamphlets and other materials that have been created based on investigations, and academic literature into the ethical issues of these professionals using social media networks, such as the one seen in figure 2.
Figure 2: One of many pamphlets created to help provide guidance to professionals when using social media (NCSBN).
In previous topics, we have explored how the digital world, and social media in particular can be of great benefit to professionals, by allowing them to share knowledge and ideas, and create connections and maintain relationships that may have never been possible previously. However emerging literature and debates online show that there is a fine line between what is acceptable for these professionals to post, and what isn’t, and in terms of maintaining confidentiality this is no different. Often employers do not have specific guidelines and rules when it comes to professionals using their personal phones and other technology to access social media outside of the workplace, and breaking confidentiality can have varying consequences, and also be carried out by a variety of individuals.
Figure 3: Two stories of breaching of confidentiality.
Consequently it is clear that although the use of social media can be incredibly helpful for professionals, it also needs to be used with extreme caution and care, as often things such as confidentiality can be broken without us even realising.
Word Count: 396
Lachman, Vicki D. 2013. Social Media: Managing the Ethical Issues. Medsurg Nursing; Pitman22(5) 326-9.
NCSBN. A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media.
Mathew, S. and Willgress, L. 2015. Jeremy Hunt in hot water after ‘breaching patient confidentiality’ by posting hospital visit picture on Twitter with board of names on it. Mailonline.
Lee, K. and Bacon, L. 2010. Social networking: confidentiality and professional issues. British Journal of Midwifery. 18(8) 533-534
Moorhead SA, Hazlett DE, Harrison L, Carroll JK, Irwin A, Hoving C. 2013. A New Dimension of Health Care: Systematic Review of the Uses, Benefits, and Limitations of Social Media for Health Communication. J Med Internet Res 15(4):e85
The Guardian. 2014. Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger.
Greenwald, G. 2014. Why Privacy Matters. TED Talk.
Ronson, J. 2015. How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. The New York Times Magazine.
Kelion, L. 2013. UK jumps up internet scoreboard as digital divide grows. BBC News.
Kleinman, Z. 2015. Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer. BBC News.
List of Figure
Figure 1:Self made using Microsoft Word
Figure 2: NCSBN. A Nurse’s Guide to the Use of Social Media.
Figure 3:Self made using Microsoft Word