Updated 01 May 2023
Firstly, the views on here are opinions that have crystallised from all the various guidances that exist. The references below are your first port of call on how to conduct yourself. Lower down i’ve shared some of my thoughts but just remember that the decision to engage with social media can be challenging. The boundaries online can become blurred so you have to maintain a safe default position. How you are perceived is very important.
Ultimately for every fan/follower/like/retweet you get, you may likely trigger someone and cause upset in which case there is ample opportunity for you to become nervous and embarrassed at best, but subject to adverse publicity, scrutiny and investigation at worst.
To start with, read the following:
GDPR – Recital 26 – anonymised information is not subject to GDPR
From the above sources i’m emphasising the following:
Social media can be a force for good if used properly, but we’ve seen that it doesn’t take much for a single comment made naively in the past to come back and cause career damage to celebrities. It is also far too easy to get into debate’s online, or post something that is upsetting for other people regardless of intent. When using any social media platform, including WhatsApp*, consider the following rules:
- Stay professional – watch your language – avoid anything controversial or anything that could be perceived as controversial
- No patient information. At all…EVER.
- Be respectful and maintain confidentiality. Remove yourself from situation that are escalating even if you are just a spectator
- Don’t publish anything that makes you look remotely like a fool. Doing stupid things just so you can trend on TikTok, or taking risqué/extravagant photos for the Gram is never going to do you any favours, especially as you mature into senior practice.
- Set and respect boundaries . Be cautious who you connect with.
- Be clear that on social media you represent yourself and not your employers
It is becoming increasingly vogue to fall into two categories of social media user (from my observation). You either are fully-identifiable or you use an anonymous account. The key thing to note is that regardless of status the below rules should still be front and centre. It is evident that there is often conflict between the two groups, and when this happens there is behaviour that can lead to what is effectively harassment. Anonymity will not protect you if things go too far, though there is some value in it when people feel that identifying themselves may open them up to problems (especially with employers/regulators). On the other hand there are increasing legal cases related to harassment (direct and indirect) and regardless of what you believe or how right you may feel you are, if there is someone who takes issue with you then it may lead to problems for you. Even the smallest amount of negativity online can have detrimental impact on your well-being. There is an increasing trend, particularly on Twitter, for there to be the equivalent of running batter between different groups. This often leads to highly critical responses and attacks on individuals who share their opinions (however ridiculous this may be). Even posting positive news will often bring about someone who has issue with it. With many professions and unions going against the government in industrial action several media outlets have been known to trawl through social media and publish posts that often appear more controversial than they are due to lack of context.
On the plus side creating a social media presence would do well to help disseminate information to the public and promote collaboration and network development. But make sure you review the content up there and manage your privacy settings.
- LinkedIn – good professional profile especially as it helps you connect with colleagues, industry and innovators. A good source of information as well.
- Researchgate – a research portfolio that will be accessible to all your colleagues. I find it very helpful to keep up with what everyone is doing and definitely helps promote knowledge sharing.
- Twitter – Good banter but #orthotwitter has a lot of good transatlantic MDTs and case discussions. Highly politicised and tenuous space since change in ownership (Twitter equivalents like Mastadon have not really built as much traction, though this may change in future!)
- Facebook – Family and Friends only
- Instagram – If you want to publish selfies of you or pictures of food……
- TikTok – May have some educational value but you have to be wary not only of what you upload but how you frame it.
- Reddit – Social discussion forum, most accounts are anonymous which means there can be plenty of controversial content however group moderators do try to control it to prevent it going too far.
*WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. For all intents and purposes it cannot be considered a secure communication system despite what they say about end-to-end encryption. So when using WhatsApp treat it at you would any social media platform.