When Social Media and Professional Ethics Collide

Social media refers to the various modes of electronic communication used to share information and participate in social networking. Without limiting the types of platforms, social media broadly includes:

  • Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Video and photo sharing sites (Snapchat, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, etc.)
  • Social bookmarking sites (Digg, Delicious, etc.)
  • Corporate networking tools (SharePoint, etc.)
  • Media sites hosting articles with content and commenting features
  • Blogs and micro-blogging sites (Twitter, Yammer, etc.)
  • Forums and discussion groups
  • Wikis
  • Podcasts
  • Online gaming platforms
  • Geo-spatial tagging 

In the digital age, social media offers professional and personal benefits to use; however, it is important to be aware of the potential risks should you choose to participate on any social media platforms. 

The Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) respects certificants’ online social networking and personal internet usage. However, certificants are also expected to uphold their obligations to professional integrity, respect, confidentiality, support of the profession, and the BCRSP certifications in abiding by the BCRSP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct when using social media.

When using social media, BCRSP certificants should consider the following principles:

  • The BCRSP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct as well as other codes of conduct (certification/professional bodies or employer) to which you may be subject.
  • The importance of privacy and confidentiality.
  • The maintenance of professional and respectful relationship with colleagues, co-workers, employers, and clients.  
  • The role of the safety professional as it relates to obligations in ensuring a psychologically safe working environment and inclusivity. 

The BCRSP Professional Conduct Committee has seen a rise in complaints and inquiries related to the social media activity of certificants. Examples of areas where there is rising concern are:

  • Online harassment, or bullying of an individual 
  • Videos that do not protect the confidentiality or psychological safety of individuals or entities involved (e.g. posting a fatality or traumatic injury video). And remember, sensitive content, photos, videos, or other personal material posted on social media forums often exist in the public domain and you may not be able to maintain control over the distribution of material. 
  • Breaching confidentiality by posting details about an individual, or entity that makes it identifiable to others
  • Misrepresentation of credentials

It is important to remember that the expectations of professional and ethical conduct are the same, whether you are interacting in person or online. 

Always exercise caution and think before you post. 

Additional Resources:

How to Separate the Personal and Professional on Social Media
Ethical Dilemmas of Social Media – and How to Navigate Them


Assume all content posted on the internet or social media sites is public and accessible to all. Always think before you post.

Be sure to review privacy settings on a platform to safeguard personal information and content to the extent possible. Be aware that privacy settings change and keep up to date with platform policies. 

Exercise caution when posting information that relates to your employer or clients that you may need consent to share.

Be respectful of opinions that may differ from yours.

If you encounter a situation while using social media that threatens to become antagonistic, consider disengaging from the dialogue in a polite manner.

Protect the reputation of the safety profession by not posting content that would be viewed as disgraceful, dishonorable, unprofessional, or be regarded as conduct unbecoming.

Comply with all laws that govern such as copyright, plagiarism, and defamation.