By Social Carer, Tarryn Myburgh
Social media can be defined as anything online. Whether you use platforms like Facebook and Instagram, or your personal website, it is still the Internet. But there is something to be really careful of when publishing online...and that’s privacy.
Often people say it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. This is most certainly not the case when it comes to the World Wide Web!
I will start by saying I post content online all the time. Whether it is photos, videos, or writing articles. There is however, a magic ingredient that allows me to do this. And I’m going to share it with you….
All you need to do is ask your Member and often their carers too, if it is okay to post online (before you actually publish your content online).
Is it okay to connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other media?
The blanket answer for this is NO. It is not okay to reach out and connect out of nowhere. Whilst we may be friendly with our Members, we are support workers and must be professional at all times.
This doesn’t however mean you can’t add them at all — it just means you need to ask them first. They may be quite happy to connect online, but you’ll never know unless you ask.
Is it okay to post content of them online?
Absolutely not. Unless you have asked them for permission, you have no right to take photos or write content and post them online. This includes writing about them, writing their name in an article, tagging them on social media and in any way linking them directly.
You may have the best intentions, but unless they give you explicit permission, it is not okay to either take photos, post them or write content about them.
I have a Member myself, who loves to take ‘selfies’ with me and we post them online together. And this is how I got around this… I asked him and checked with his carer. Not all Members can understand the concept of, or the consequences of, the online world. Therefore, sometimes it is best to check with their carer and to be safe rather than sorry. In fact, some Members don’t mind you writing about your experiences, as long as you keep their name and face out of it. There are definitely ways around this, if you just ask for permission.
How do I handle uncomfortable situations where Members try to connect with me?
Honestly, this isn’t always easy. There is nothing worse than being harassed or uncomfortable with the online world. Often people view things differently, and the best place to start when being uncomfortable, is to ask a person to stop. If you tell them their actions are making you uncomfortable, in most instances they will stop doing them.
But let’s be realistic, we are not always dealing with people with the same understandings as us. And that’s okay. How people interpret what is okay behaviour and what is not, is very subjective person to person. If you ask someone to stop doing something and they continue to proceed with that task, it is best to notify the Like Family team.
By letting the team know, you are able to make them aware in case a similar situation occurs. It’s perfectly normal to not be comfortable with everything, and often times that can lead to you no longer working with someone. You have every right to choose to block someone from your accounts and hold your care and safety as high as others. If this is the case, find another member to work with, as we are a community after all.
So to summarise, here are some practical ways to interact comfortably and safely on social media
- Ask your Member before taking a photo
- Ask your Member if it’s okay to add them on a specific platform
- Ask your Member if it’s okay to post a specific photo online
- Ask your Member if it’s okay to write content about them
- Ask your Member if they are okay with you filming them
Honestly, the best thing you can do is ask your Member. It’s really that easy. Don’t do anything you don’t want done to yourself, respect others' privacy, and be considerate of their feelings. All situations can be avoided by talking and asking permission.
And the best thing you can do if you are uncomfortable, is to talk to the Member. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, reach out to the Like Family team if needed. Most importantly, don’t retaliate, post things online or block Members straight away, as they may not understand if you don’t talk to them.
A huge thank you to Tarryn for sharing this advice. If you have any questions about being a Social Carer, feel free to email or call us!