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Introduction: What is social media?

SoMe is a generic term for online communication, where the platforms used permit all those participating to upload and share information. According to Wikipedia :

‘Social Media are computer-mediated tools that allow people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. SoMe is defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010).’’’

The sorts of platforms which might be familiar are Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. However, any on-line space that permits sharing of information, for example web-site forums and mobile instant messaging applications or Apps, such as Whatsapp, are also forms of SoMe. Ofcom (2015) has reported that more than 80% of adults have some form of SoMe profile, it is therefore very likely that most of the radiography workforce will have used SoMe in some aspect of their lives.

Most people are familiar with SoMe in terms of enabling communication between friends and family. However, because SoMe is designed to enable the development of communities of people with a common interest, it is also an excellent means of networking with other health professionals, patients and clients about professional issues related to imaging and oncology. As we are often more familiar with SoMe as an informal means of communicating about non-professional aspects of our lives, professional use of SoMe can seem unfamiliar. Furthermore, because a cornerstone of health care ethical practice is confidentiality, this does not intuitively fit well with sharing information in an online space. Nevertheless, SoMe has been shown to have great potential for enhancing the patient experience, creating professional networks (Periera et al 2015) and facilitating lifelong learning. Furthermore, on-line methods of communication are a fundamental feature of the DoH (2012) ‘Power of Information’ strategy.

These guidelines attempt to support the radiography workforce in understanding how to balance the tensions of transparency and confidentiality, and to encourage them to make the best use of SoMe without putting their professional identity at risk.

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