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Who are you speaking for?

When using a social network it is important to be clear whether you are using it in a personal capacity or speaking on behalf of an organisation. Doctors who want to express their own views are advised to state clearly in their social media profiles that they are writing in a personal capacity. Another way of avoiding any confusion about whether an individual is speaking in a personal or official capacity is to remove any reference to organisations in your social media profile. Many secondary care organisations have social media policies which specify that employees should not identify where they work on their social media profiles. 

Is this guidance helpful? Let us know what you think.

6 replies

  • This isn't very clear. Are you saying  If not referring to membership of specific organisations eg the BMA, then there's no need to declare "views my own"

  • In reply to Mary Church:

    I think the assumed wisdom is that having "views my own" on your profile and not linking yourself to an organisation such as the BMA insulates you to a certain degree from getting into trouble with employers or organisations that you are linked to, however I'm not aware of a case in which this has been used in a successful defence. Can our social media department produce such an example?

  • In reply to Antony Christopher Bolton:

    Including a statement that clarifies 'your views are your own' is good practice. The possibility exists that if you say where you work, for example, someone could assume you are speaking on behalf of that organisation. It could get awkward if it was then picked up in the press.

  • In reply to Gordon Fletcher:

    But is there any evidence that this statement is actually protective? I'm asking out of genuine curiosity because I'm not sure it will stand up in court.

  • In reply to Antony Christopher Bolton:

    I'm not identified on Facebook as a doctor, but it would be easy to guess that I am. However, I feel no need to say the views expressed are my own, since there is no affiliation mentioned either. In fact, I am not an employee, so cannot speak on an employer's behalf. However, if I did work for the NHS, would I be unable to express any view on NHS provision? I think that many thousands of them do.

  • In reply to Gerald Thomas Freshwater:

    By the way, the guidance seems good to me.