Using Social Media Wisely

One of FHO’s readers sent me an article this morning on an appellate decision related to the use of Facebook. The decision centered around whether a student at the University of Minnesota could be disciplined because of Facebook posts created off campus and outside of academic hours. And so far, the answer continues to be yes. I post this because when I speak on the issue of defensible practice, a topic about which I am passionate, one of the key areas I touch on is the use of social media. As I’ve written previously, I am a huge fan of things like Facebook, and obviously there’s this blog, and it’s connected to my Twitter feed, so, yeah, I’m all over the interwebs.

But our personal conduct reflects on our professional lives, and it’s naive to think that things like Facebook posts will remain in your personal realm, and not spill over. Posts do not occur in a vacuum. There is no protective bubble around Facebook that keeps your information contained. And there can be consequences because of your posts (from your school, your job, or the judge in that case you’re currently testifying in) that can be damaging and long-lasting. Assume your posts will be read by your boss, your grandmother and the entire defense bar, and edit yourself accordingly.

You can read the full decision, Tatro v. University of Minnesota here (PDF).

Edit: After I had already posted this, I received a tweet from one of my very favorite people, letting me know TAASA had also just posted on the issue of Facebook and privacy. It’s a good read–very practical tips. Thanks, Sally!