ETHICS AND THE NEW AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Jeffrey Dulko, Ph.D., CRC, LMHC OVERVIEW AND TAKEAWAYS • General understanding of the power of social networking/media • Potential ethical challenges in the context of the 6 Ethical Principles of the CRC code • Ethical implications of electronic communication focusing on privacy, professional boundaries, and dual relationships • Strategies to prevent inadvertent ethical violations through electronic communication SOCIAL NETWORKING AND SOCIAL MEDIA • Umbrella terms to describe social and interpersonal interactions via technology (most commonly internetbased platforms) to create, share or exchange information • Who are you representing? • Do you have a choice? POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKING/SOCIAL MEDIA • Speed and scope of information transfer at rates never seen before • Sense of permanence to what’s posted • Little to no cost • Interactive • Anonymity and lack of immediate accountability • Blurring boundaries between professional and personal life • Just plain POWERFUL! SAMPLE OF POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES • Facebook • Flickr • Google+ • LinkedIn • Twitter • MySpace • Instagram • Pinterest • Tumblr OTHER OPPORTUNITIES FOR INTERNET EXPOSURE • Blogs • Chat rooms • Message boards • Online communities • Webcasts NATIONAL BUSINESS SURVEY RESULTS (ETHICS RESOURCE CENTER) There is something about communication through social media that creates permissiveness. BRIEF REVIEW OF THE SIX CRC ETHICAL PRINCIPLES • Autonomy • Beneficence • Nonmaleficence • Justice • Fidelity • Veracity CRC CODES • C.5.c. MEDIA PRESENTATIONS. When rehabilitation counselors provide advice or comment by means of public lectures, demonstrations, radio or television programs, prerecorded tapes, technology- based applications, printed articles, mailed materials, or other media, they take reasonable precautions to ensure that: (1) the statements are based on appropriate professional counseling literature and practice; (2) the statements are otherwise consistent with the Code; and, (3) the recipients of the information are not encouraged to infer that a professional rehabilitation counseling relationship has been established. • C.5.h. PERSONAL PUBLIC STATEMENTS. When making personal statements in a public context, rehabilitation counselors clarify that they are speaking from their personal perspective and that they are NOT speaking on behalf of all rehabilitation counselors, the profession, or any professional organizations with which they may be affiliated. SO MANY PRIVACY CONSIDERATIONS • Social communication occurs in a public forum • Dangers of perceived anonymity • Communication and connections are visible and potentially permanent • Underestimating our exposure: three degrees of separation on the web • People we serve can see your private information and communication with others • Others can see your private, confidential communication SO MANY PRIVACY CONSIDERATIONS • Information can be shared through a friend of a friend (“tagging”) • Your children and friends will post things about you without your knowledge • Potential for accounts to be hacked • Cyber footprints from games, retailers, etc.; companies mining online communication • Sense of “fairness” – no one can see disability BLURRED (PROFESSIONAL) LINES • Individuals we serve have access to more of our personal information than ever before. • Those with poor boundary issues may access the professional’s private information or disclose what they experienced in a recent session on a blog. • A professional may access client information online that the individual would not or did not want to disclose in the professional relationship (i.e., criminal records). • How accessible is the professional outside of the set office hours? • Information about your family and friends is open to viewing. • Affiliations to clubs, organizations and political parties. DUAL RELATIONSHIPS • Maintaining another relationship with the person you serve outside of the professional context • Not always avoidable or bad but it must be clearly defined • Joining mutual forums in which your opinion is shared • Shared “Likes” and subsequent comments • Some individuals we serve can learn of the “special” electronic relationship you have with others and want it too. OTHER POTENTIAL ETHICAL CHALLENGES • CRC Ethics Code doesn’t specifically address social media • Clicking inadvertently on certain links can hijack your email addresses • Countless professionals being put on leave or fired for what they posted • Completing online job applications/assessments for clients that goes beyond accommodation • Posting testimonials • Inadvertently establishing a counselor-client relationship • Interruptions in sessions • “Friend” denials can hurt • Misinterpretations without the face-to-face contact NEW EMPLOYEES AND INTERNS WHO ARE STRONG SOCIAL NETWORKERS • Strong sense of permissiveness to connect to others online • Habit and culture shift • Open dialogue about ethical principles and practices – everyone is learning • Increasing privacy and cautiousness about postings • Alter egos don’t guarantee privacy • Embracing a professional identity carries feelings of loss, confusion and potentially being displaced SUGGESTIONS • Define your objectives for social networking • Abstain from social media or maintain a static profile • Untag yourself in Facebook photos • Don’t use your whole or real name (i.e., maiden name as an alternative) • Use separate accounts for personal and professional identities • Set policies for both professional and personal social networking use • Let client’s know your personal/professional social media policy at the start of the relationship SUGGESTIONS • Google yourself on a regular basis; try different search criteria • Ask friends and family for discretion when posting pictures about you (i.e., no pictures when in a drunken stupor from college days) • Address all concerns offline • Don’t post anything about the people you serve online • Think twice; write once • Use caution when recommending social networking to others; present potential for harm BUT … WHEN THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY • The Facebook example • Facebook security features are complex and make it easy to give up or not complete the security features accurately. • People seem to be able to get around them easily enough anyway. • Friends of friends • Have a teenager or other social media expert try to access your information. QUESTIONS REFERENCES • Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification (CRCC; 2010). Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors. Schaumburg, IL. • Duncan-Daston, R., Hunter-Sloan, M., & Fullmer, E. (2013). Considering the ethical implications of social media in social work education. Ethics and Information Technology, 15(1), 35-43. • Gross, R., & Acquisti, A. (2005). Information revelation and privacy in online social networks: The Facebook case. In Proceedings of the 2005 ACM Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society. New York: 71-80. • Judd, R.G., & Johnston, L.B. (2012). Ethical consequences of using social network sites for students in professional social work programs. Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics, 9(1), 5-12.