In addition to the very real common-sense and practical approaches to civility on social media, there may also be ethical considerations. (See ASHA, Ethical Use of Social Media .)
Using social media and participating in discussions can be helpful and, well, social. But one thing it never is? Private. Even on private Facebook pages and/or if you keep your accounts on a private setting, individuals can take screenshots of comments and conversations and send or post them online. Consider viewing your potential comments through the lenses of a current or future supervisors, students, legislators or patients. In addition, it is possible that someone who is being uncivil may also be making statements that are defamatory. The term defamation can include verbal and written statements that are factually false. Defamation laws, which vary from state to state, are generally intended to protect individuals and organizations from false factual statements that could monetarily harm their reputations. One key element in proving defamation claims in most states is that the aggrieved party must establish that the defendant uttered or published a false factual statement to a third party. Rarely are statements of opinion deemed defamatory. For more information on when a civility issue may trigger an ethical concern, visit the ASHA webpages entitled, "The Ethical Use of Social Media," which provides guidance from the ASHA Board of Ethics.