This document was developed to provide a set of guidelines in the use of social media applications for the American College of Veterinary Pathology (ACVP). The rapid growth of social media technologies combined with their ease of use make them excellent relationship-building tools. However, these tools also hold the possibility of a host of unintended consequences, especially when the topics discuss controversial subjects such as animal rights, proprietary research, etc. To help you identify and avoid potential issues we have compiled these guidelines. They are examples of best practices from various organizations.
Things to Consider When Beginning to Use Social Media
Applications that allow you to interact with others online (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) require careful consideration to assess the implications of “friending,” “linking, ” “following” or accepting such a request from another person. For example, there is the potential for misinterpretation of the relationship or the potential of sharing protected information. Relationships such as faculty-student, supervisor-subordinate and staff-student merit close consideration of the implications and the nature of the social interaction. If your employer has a specific policy in place, become familiar with and follow them.
Sharing ACVP news, events or promoting the college, its members, residents and student work through social media tools is an excellent, low-cost way to engage the community and build our brand. Members and ACVP staff are encouraged to repost and share information with their colleagues, family and friends that is available to the public (press releases, articles in the Veterinary Pathology Journal, Internet news, etc.). The best way to share ACVP news is to link to the original source. When sharing information that is not a matter of public record, please follow the below guidelines.
Do not post confidential or proprietary information about the ACVP, its members, its emeritus members or ACVP staff. Use good ethical judgment and follow federal requirements. This is particularly true for ACVP members that work for the U.S. government or have separate policies in place at the institution where they are employed.
Maintain Medical Record and Photography Confidentiality
There are pathology images that are available via electronic media; however, professionalism is of upmost importance to the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. In an effort to ensure that photographic images of whole animals and lesions of submitted cases are used only in professional scientific and educational venues, the following policies are in place. We are ethically bound to keep patient information confidential. Inappropriate or disrespectful comments are not permitted.
Before any image or case history is posted, check with the policies of your College or Company, and the attending pathologist involved with the case.
Do not post any identifying information for the case such as: owner, patient, or veterinarian name.
Images should only be used for education or consultation.
Be aware that some educational images and images on websites have copyrights.
Do not reveal financial information.
Images are to only be accessed by members of closed (invitation-only) groups including the pathology residency or student chapter Facebook groups, pathology listserves, or other protected sites. The photographs taken of pathology cases are often quite graphic and should not be placed in a public forum such as Facebook, MySpace, or other on-line forums unless access by the general public is prohibited. For the public, it would be most upsetting to see necropsy information or images of their own animals in an on-line forum; therefore, sensitivity to client confidentially is a standard of professionalism.
Maintain Privacy and Patient Confidentiality
Do not discuss a situation involving named or pictured individuals on a social media site without their permission. As a guideline, do not post anything that you would not present in any public forum.
Do No Harm
Let your Internet social networking do no harm to the ACVP or to yourself whether you’re navigating those networks on the job or off.
Understand Your Personal Responsibility
ACVP staff, members, their families and friends are personally responsible for the content they publish on blogs, wikis or any other form of user-generated content. Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time— protect your privacy.
Be Aware of Liability
You are responsible for what you post on your own site and on the sites of others. Individual bloggers have been held liable for commentary deemed to be copyright infringement, defamatory, proprietary, libelous, or obscene (as defined by the courts). Increasingly, employers are conducting Web searches on job candidates before extending offers. Be sure that what you post today will not come back to haunt you.
The line between professional and personal business is sometimes blurred: Be thoughtful about your posting’s content and potential audiences. Be honest about your identity. In personal posts, you may identify yourself as an ACVP member. However, please be clear that you are sharing your views as an individual, not as a representative of the ACVP.
If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you’re posting to a blog, you may choose to modify an earlier post—just make it clear that you have done so.
You are more likely to achieve your goals or sway others to your beliefs if you are constructive and respectful while discussing a bad experience or disagreeing with a concept or person.
Be a Valued Member
If you join a social network, make sure you are contributing valuable insights. Don’t hijack the discussion and redirect by posting self/organizational promoting information. Self-promoting behavior is viewed negatively and can lead to you being banned from Web sites or groups.
Think Before You Post
There’s no such thing as a “private” social media site. Search engines can turn up posts and pictures years after the publication date. Comments can be forwarded or copied. Archival systems save information even if you delete a post. If you feel angry or passionate about a subject, it’s wise to delay posting until you are calm and clear-headed. Post only pictures that you would be comfortable sharing with the general public (e.g. current and future colleagues, employers, etc.).
Use a Disclaimer
If you publish content to any website outside of ACVP and it has something to do with the work you do or subjects associated with ACVP, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and do not represent ACVP’s positions, strategies or opinions.”
Don’t Use the ACVP Logo or Make Endorsements
Do not use the ACVP logo, or any other ACVP marks or images on your personal online sites. Do not use ACVP’s name to promote or endorse any product, cause or political party or candidate.
Don’t Use Pseudonyms
Never pretend to be someone else. Tracking tools enable supposedly anonymous posts to be traced back to their authors.
Protect Your Identity
While you should be honest about yourself, don’t provide personal information that scam artists or identity thieves could use. Don’t list your home address or telephone number. It is a good idea to create a separate e-mail address that is used only with social media sites.
Does it Pass the Publicity Test?
If the content of your message would not be acceptable for face-to-face conversation, over the telephone, or in another medium, it will not be acceptable for a social networking site. Ask yourself, would I want to see this published in the newspaper or posted on a billboard tomorrow or ten years from now?
Respect Your Audience
Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the ACVP community. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered sensitive —such as politics, animal rights and religion.
Most people who maintain social media sites welcome comments— it builds credibility and community. However, ACVP sites are set up to monitor commentary and administrators will delete comments and block any individuals who repeatedly post offensive or frivolous comments.
Any messages that might act as the “voice” or position of ACVP must be approved by the website editorial board.
All content provided within the ACVP website (the “Site”), and any agreements between ACVP members regarding such content, does not constitute a legal contract or other covenant or agreement of any kind between the ACVP or its Executive or organizing committees and any person or entity. Although the content found on the Site is believed to be reliable, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability, or usefulness of any content, either isolated or in the aggregate. All content is provided “as is.” All warranties of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, freedom from contamination by computer viruses, and noninfringement of proprietary rights, are disclaimed. Changes may be periodically made to the Site; no notice is required with respect to any changes; and changes may or may not be incorporated into the Site. If you find any errors or omissions, we encourage you to report them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The ACVP and its agencies are not liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information on this Site, assume no responsibility for anyone’s use of or reliance on any such content, are not liable for any damages (of any type, for any reason, however caused, or under any theory of liability) arising in any way out of the use of this Site, even if advised of the possibility of that damage.
Disclaimer of Endorsement
The Site may sometimes refer to or offer content supplied by a third party. Any opinion, advice, statement, service, offer, information, or content expressed or made available by a third party is that of the third party and does not necessarily reflect that of the ACVP. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the ACVP.
Disclaimer for External Links
The ACVP is not responsible for the content of any referenced or linked off-Site page and is not liable for that content. The risk of injury rests entirely with the user. Links from the Site’s web pages to other sites do not constitute an endorsement from the ACVP. These links are provided as an information service only. It is the responsibility of the user to evaluate the content and usefulness of information obtained from other sites. You should direct any concerns regarding any external link to its site administrator or webmaster. If you choose to follow one of these links, the policies of that outside site take effect until you return to this site.
Disclaimer of Duty to Continue to Provide Data
Due to the dynamic nature of the Internet, resources that are free and publicly available one day may require a fee or may have access restricted the next, and the location of items may change as menus, homepages, and files are reorganized. Use of the Site is at the user’s sole risk. The ACVP does not warrant that the service will be uninterrupted or error free. The documents and related graphics published on this Site could contain technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes may be made to the information on this Site at any time.
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