What Happens on Facebook Doesn’t Stay On Facebook
Be Smart on Social Media
by Jennifer Harris, Public Relations Consultant to TxANA
For all the good that social media delivers – connections to family and friends, a sense of community, a platform for advocacy – there are plenty of pitfalls. Perhaps most important of all is to remember what happens on Facebook (or any social media platform) doesn’t stay there. Put another way, what you say online can be used against you in the court of public opinion and the hall of the Capitol.
A recent incident on Facebook highlights the cost and consequences of personal social media posts to your professional career.
A Thompson & Knight law firm administrative employee ranted on Facebook against mask wearing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The post included an expletive-laden tirade against masks with a threat of physical violence to cap it off.
The law firm took swift action to terminate the employee and clearly state its opposition to both the tone, tenor and content of his post.
One errant post can land you in hot water, today, tomorrow or even years down the road. This is especially true if you are a professional whose tweets, Facebook posts, or Instagram stories could reflect poorly on your employer, your larger profession, or the state association that represents you and your colleagues.
Your personal social media posts – even if they are limited to “friends” or online connections – can very quickly and easily find their way by screenshot into the wide-open world. Competitors or opponents can seize on controversial personal posts to attempt to critique the entire profession or business.
You should use social media with the understanding that everything you ever say, every person or organization you ever tag, and every post or comment you make is public. It doesn’t matter if you think you have your privacy settings locked down or you only interact with trusted friends. Privacy settings can change without notice; friends might not always be so trustworthy; or, your potential new employer or opponents may cull through your social media accounts, too.
For CRNAs and TxANA, think of it this way: Ask yourself if you would want a legislator to see your posts? Would TxANA and the CRNA profession be well served if your Facebook rant suddenly appeared on the front page of the Houston Chronicle?
Here are some guardrails and guidelines for appropriate social media use:
Don’t Let Emotions Overrun Your Posts. Don’t get into Twitter wars or feed the Facebook comment trolls. Avoid calling people out, engaging in political arguments, bashing other health care providers or organizations. People on social media say things they would never dare say in public, yet the consequences can be worse than if they had said them face-to-face.
Don’t Drink and Tweet. It’s stating the obvious but is worth a reminder. It is important to not be impaired in any way (including sleep deprivation, anger or a few drinks) when using social media. You may find yourself posting something you regret in the light of a new day. It’s better to set the phone down and revisit if or how you respond on social media. When in doubt about a reply or a TxANA position, contact your TxANA staff for advice and messaging. Simply put, think before you tweet or post. Keep in mind how your posts might impact the CRNA profession or your association, as well.
Your Private Face Is Part of Your Public Persona. Nearly all employers, educational institutions, media outlets, etc., research a job applicant’s social media presence before interviews or extending job offers. Be sure that your social media presence doesn’t jeopardize your career, but instead enhances it. Even with the tightest privacy settings, what you post online can find its way into public view; so, again, think before your Tweet or post. And, if you’re uncertain about the right message or response regarding CRNA issues, consult with TxANA staff and its public relations staff.
Social media is a powerful tool. TxANA wants CRNAs to harness the power of these platforms for good as we collectively educate and advocate for the CRNA profession. This cautionary tale and the tips shared here aren’t intended to discourage your use of social media. Instead, TxANA wants to encourage you to be smart, strategic and thoughtful about the posts, public comments and content you share online.