What you say can be used against you

Jessica Foster
June 16, 2016
By
Have you ever visited a website or social media site, posted a comment or a picture that you assumed would be either private or not associated with you?


Just as a wearable fitness tracker stores information about you; the web stores a whole lot more information about you and your online activity. If you think what you post on the web is not traceable or reproducible, think again. Your smartphone, computer hard drives, websites visited, social media platforms and the like, keep meticulous records of your online activities, all traceable to you.

Businesspersons, including allied health-care providers, routinely use good judgment to filter their daily interactions and communications with clients and colleagues. But for some people, that filtering goes right out the window when spontaneously tweeting or posting to web-based platforms. That’s never a problem – until it is.

In the winter of 2016 a Facebook post resulted in a Saskatchewan nurse facing charges of professional misconduct by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association. The nurse reportedly posted a statement that some RNs needed refresher courses in giving quality-of-life-oriented health care to the elderly. While this seemingly innocuous sentiment may appear to be innocent enough, that doesn’t change the fact she was charged with professional misconduct by her nursing association.

Did you know that website and social media sites are regularly scanned and archived in databases? That means that changing or deleting your posts and content doesn’t mean they are gone. Check out www.archive.org to view monthly, historical versions of virtually all sites on the Internet that are viewable and completely recoverable by anyone.

Digital accountability
There is a brave new world of opportunities afforded by online applications and educational material that connect caregivers, their clients and the general public. This offers an incredible opportunity for RMTs.

There is a phenomenal benefit derived from contributing, responsibly exchanging and studying clinical related content and promoting quality health care for clients and practitioners alike.

Just remember that both your personal and professional digital tracks are easily tied together. RMTs – especially regulated RMTs – need to regularly review and re-assess their approach to social media sharing to ensure they are engaging in the positive side of these interactions.

Always consider the dangers of creating content, posting or responding to comments on the web. This does not mean you should not actively participate in personal and professional social media information exchanges. It just means you want to think twice before putting your thoughts out there, where they may live forever. Review your messaging using some common sense filters before hitting the post button. Consider just a few filtering rules of thumb:

Because your professional image is associated with your personal image, ask yourself if your online activity promotes professionalism.
  • If your post is related to health care, does your commentary fit into your scope of practice, and is it accurate and useful?
  • If personal, does the post also portray you as the professional that you are?
  • Remember, dissemination of copyrighted material without permission is a big no-no.
  • Health Information posted that can identify a patient, whether or not by name, should be avoided at all cost.
Your online “footprint” is not just information you have posted. It includes information that others have posted that includes you. Some people think their comments in closed group social sites are not available to the public. There are over a dozen Dalhousie dental students who learned the hard way that any member can take screenshots of what is said (or not said) by other members in the “closed-group” and disseminate it to a global audience.

You might be surprised at how much information can be discovered by anyone with an agenda to uncover your background. Standards for professional interactions between your clients and potential clients should be consistent across all your forms of communications, whether personal or professional.

While the vast majority of RMT’s will benefit greatly from the increase in clinical and professional social media information exchange with clients and colleagues, it may be helpful to remember to filter both what you read and what you say.


Jessica Foster writes on behalf of mindZplay Solutions, provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit www.massagemanedger.com.


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