SCoR Talk


Monday, April 29, 2013

Don't get caught out by social media


When 17-year-old Paris Brown resigned from her position as Kent's Youth Crime Commissioner last month, it sent a strong message to all social media users: Be very careful what you say and record in public.

Paris was in post less than a week before she was called out on her Twitter posts – made some years before – which were deemed racist, homophobic and appeared to condone drug-taking and violence.

The Youth Crime Commissioner acknowledged her comments may have offended people. But she also noted that – for her generation in particular – Twitter was a place to go to sound off and that much of what is written should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Nevertheless, it wasn't an ideal situation for the newly appointed Youth Crime Commissioner. Brown was interrogated by police and had to surrender her mobile phone for three days.

Whether or not Brown's tweets truly reflected her current position or beliefs, there was no getting away from the fact that it did her credibility enormous damage, as well as that of her employers.

Ann Barnes, the new Kent Police Commissioner who recruited Brown as her aide, was criticised for not exercising more rigorous recruitment practices.

So what are the lessons from this debacle? Louise Coleman, SCoR professional officer, offers some advice:

Recruitment checks

It may not have happened during the recruitment of Paris Brown, but employers are increasingly searching social media to verify and back up what they know or suspect about candidates. Treat your profile and activity like an informal CV or media image of yourself, because it is.

Defend your profile

Watch out for others posting content on your profiles that could be construed as offensive or casting you in a bad light. Only become 'friends' with people you have met and don't get caught up in other people's inappropriate behaviour. 


Keep on top of all changes to security settings, particularly with regards to Facebook which tends to change. Control your privacy settings whenever you post, sharing with 'friends' only. Ensure your passwords are complex and are changed regularly. Social networking apps are more easily accessible via your mobile phone, so strengthen the password security of your device also.

Public and permanent

Anything you add on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or any of the other social networking sites is in the public domain. It might be carefully concealed by security settings, but remember that it could, at any time, make its way into the open, beyond just your friends and family. Never publish (to friends or otherwise) the personal details or data of others. This includes medical images of patients which contain sensitive data. Just omitting the patient's name is not enough. Specific details of a patient's illness, conditions or accidents can make them identifiable.

Use your judgement

Avoid negativity, swearing, offensive remarks about individuals or groups, and posting images that are either copyright protected or may give cause for offence. One general rule of thumb used by many – if it's likely to shock your gran or boss, don't post!

Professional and ethical conduct

Take particular care not to (deliberately or inadvertently) bring yourself, your colleagues, employer or the SCoR into disrepute through confidential details being mentioned on the internet. Where networks are used to share ideas or ask advice, it's important that personal details of members or third parties are not published.

All student radiographers are urged to read the SCoR's Code of Conduct and Ethics document, published in the document library. It provides guidance and requires staff to use their professional judgement in order to maintain the widest public trust and confidence in the profession.

No one would deny that social networking sites can lead to many fruitful and educative interactions. When used responsibly, they are fantastic communications tools that can open up a whole world of expertise and knowledge. What more could a student ask for?

Do you have any thoughts or tips to share with other students? What are your views on the divide between personal and professional lives? As ever, feel free to drop the editor an email:

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