Opportunities to network electronically are growing every day. Social media websites allow nurses to connect with friends and colleagues both personally and professionally. Yet, these same digital connections may raise concern about the professional responsibilities of nurses. Before logging on to a site, nurses should consider these factors to avoid crossing the digital line.
Nothing is Private. The small print outlining the privacy policies of social media sites will quickly lead you to discover that no interaction is totally private. Social media sites collect the information you provide to them and may use the data to target future advertising and suggestions to you. Sites may share your information with third parties and with legal authorities.
Explore Privacy Options. Many popular social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and CaringBridge, allow users to set their own privacy options. Consider if your personal information, photographs, and conversations with colleagues should be open for the public to view or customized so that the viewing is limited to a select few.
Provide Knowledge, Not Advice. A number of people use social media sites as a source of health information. The National Research Corporation released survey results in February 2011, showing that one in five Americans admitted to this trend. Nurses that have professional sites solely dedicated to providing credible health information may provide a service to the public. However, using a social media site to advise patients of a specific course of action may breach confidentiality and ethics rules.