So, online identity has been in the news recently (it's never out though is it?). A famous author has been caught bigging himself up on Amazon, whilst dissing his contemporaries, sockpuppeting was my new word of the week a couple of weeks ago. Whilst that's all a bit embarrassing and childish, it does raise questions about who you are when you are online:
- yourself - no boundaries between your personal life and your work - one email address, one Facebook, one twitter etc
- your job - everything you post is spoken as your job role rather than you - all linked to your .gov.uk account or similar
- a mixture - you've got work and personal accounts on all your favourite platforms
I have a suspicion that most people on KHub are in a fourth category - we're such rebels and mavericks! We live in a knife edge world, skirting the boundaries of our employers' IT policies, the T+Cs of the sites we use and our own personal space. Unfortunately, it's more frustrating than exciting.
My question is - do we need some rules, or at least some ethical guidelines?
I'm sure this is relevant to most service areas. In mine, youth work and community work, it's paramount. Young people and adults alike are using social media, and they often expect us to be there too. So, if I want to speak to a group of service users - or more challenging - a single service user, do I;
- use my personal voice - a personal account on whatever platform
- use my team voice - some kind of group account or page on that platform
- use my professional voice - an account created solely for interactions like this
On the face of it, the second and third options seem 'safer' - but are they? For a start if we are using Facebook, having more than one account is breaking their T+Cs. When I raise this at meetings, the argument is often 'you'll never get caught', that simply wouldn't cut it in any 'real life' situation. What about if we have a 'team' account? doesn't that mean that the service user has no idea who they are talking to?
Even if you are using a platform that allows multiple log in, what rights does the service user have to know who is speaking? On the phone, when a member of the public phones a service, it is normal practice for them to be able to ask who is talking - do the same rules apply online?
But that first option - using my personal voice - even without the child protection issues in youth work - do i really want to share everything with service users, or do they really care?
We are living in a world where the knowledge about you, your work and your family is more public than it has ever been - If you've ever looked at the Johari window <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window> it seems that this type of model is broken down by current social media.
I'm convinced there's lots to talk about here and I'd love this to be a start, please leave some questions, some answers or other comments below.