Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have changed how we communicate, but it’s important to remember that careers have been wrecked over an ill-judged post on social media. Follow these tips and you won’t go too far wrong.
- Check and act in accordance with the IT policy. Even if you do not like the restrictions it may place around social media use, act in accordance with your school’s (and later on, your employer’s) IT policy, and make sure you keep up to date with any changes to it.
- Never have pupils, parents of pupils or ex-pupils as friends on Facebook and other sites.Keep your personal and professional life separate. If you don’t, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to allegations of inappropriate contact, as well as possible complaints about posts relating to your personal life. You are entitled to a private life, but if you make your private life public, there could be consequences.
- Have the strongest privacy settings possible – but be aware ‘friends’ may not have the same level of privacy. Comments, photos and videos can quickly become public. We advise you never to include your place of work as part of any social media profile.
- Be aware of who your ‘friends’ are. Casual acquaintances could add a photo or comment to your Facebook page that could land you in trouble. Colleagues who are friends may take offence at something you posted, take a screenshot and pass it to management. If you want to use Facebook for social purposes, only add trusted friends – if you are not friends with a colleague in real life, why be a friend on Facebook?
- Think about your username and email address. Sites like Twitter and Instagram will often ask you for a username and most email accounts allow you to choose your email address, while your actual name is often still visible. Think about this carefully – does your username/email address reveal something quite personal, is it embarrassing or could it be deemed offensive?
- If in doubt, don’t post it. You hold a professional position within the community, and few careers have the same level of interaction with children and young people. Therefore, your behaviour and online presence is going to be the subject of greater scrutiny. Always think carefully about what you are posting, whether a photo or text – and if in doubt, don’t post it.