News & Events

Golden rules for posting on social networking sites

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
January/February 2010 Edition

By Deb Rigiero
Associate Director, Organizing

Every parent I know dreads having to give “the talk” to their kids. You know which one I’m talking about. Yes, that one: The talk that you give while you are driving so that your kids are a captive audience and you don’t have to look at them when you are talking about the facts of life (at least that is what I did). Sometimes TV, books or commercials make it easier. Like the pamphlet or commercial that said if you’ve been with someone, then you’ve been with who they’ve been with, and who they’ve been, and so on.

*Alert: No need to look at the front cover, this is not a parenting magazine.

Now I have had to have another "talk" with my boys. I think this talk would be helpful not only with our kids but also with our colleagues. This talk is about social networking but about electronic social networks: Facebook, My-Space, and Twitter for example. Below are some golden rules I gave to my kids when using Facebook, etc.

8 golden rules

  • If you don’t want your mother, boss, future boss or future children to see it, then don’t post-it.
  • If you plan to run for political office someday be very careful about what you post or your friends post.
  • A picture speaks a thousand words. Be very careful with not just pictures you took, but with pictures someone else took of you doing something you shouldn’t have. Those pictures can crop up on anyone’s Facebook page. Also, make sure the background of the picture won’t get you in trouble.
  • Once written, posted or sent you cannot take it back. Even if you delete it someone may have seen it.
  • TMI (too much information). Do you really want everyone knowing your personal information? I don’t need to know exactly what you did between the hours of 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.. Do I really need to know what you had for breakfast? Especially don’t put on your page that you are going on vacation. Who knows who will see it, maybe some smart criminal.
  • Whatever you post can and will be used against you in a court of law, or in some cases, arbitration with your employer (for those of us who are represented by a union).
  • You do not control who sees what you have posted, emailed or twittered. It can be copied and pasted, forwarded, or printed and posted on some bulletin board for all to see.
  • Never use a work computer for any personal business or postings.

Nurses and other workers have been disciplined or fired over emails and postings. Now, there are whole departments who browse these sites to look up their own employees or perspective employees. Don’t get me wrong, these are important social networks and a way of communicating that expands our world. But as with any social network, be it electronic or personal you need protection. In the world of workers, being a union member is the best protection around. But even that is only effective if you use it properly. Participate in your union, report disciplines or discussions, don’t meet with management alone and follow the “Golden Rules.”

*If you’ve made it to the end of this article, thank you very much. Now go forward and post … carefully.