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Stay safe on social media

Sharing information is great but not when it gets you into trouble at work.

Jul 28, 2020

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by Mimi Williams, Communications Staff

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be powerful tools for helping us feel connected with our communities, especially during challenging times.

These platforms are also highly effective for sharing information with large numbers of people quickly. In the last three months they’ve become even more important for keeping up to speed with breaking news.

There’s a lot happening in Alberta and beyond, and members are talking. While it’s important we continue to amplify our collective voice on digital platforms, social media activity can impact employment, so it’s just as important we exercise caution before we share.

Canadian arbitrators have upheld discipline of employees for their social media activity, even when that activity occurs when the worker is off-duty. Employees have a responsibility not to damage their employer’s reputation and cannot create situations where it may make co-workers uncomfortable in their presence.

It’s okay to say that you had a bad day at work. It’s not okay to publicly criticize your employer or co-workers. It’s important that you always abide by the confidentiality and privacy oaths you’ve sworn as a condition of your employment, whether or not you’re on duty.

If you have a problem at your worksite, we encourage you to pursue all internal avenues to solve it rather than express your frustration on social media. Talk to a union steward or call AUPE’s Member Resource Centre at 1-800-232-7284.

You might think your social media posts are visible only to your friends, but it’s important to remember that anything you post can easily take on a life of its own. It’s a lot easier to keep the genie in the bottle than to get it back in.

5 Practical Tips for Social Media

  1. Use social media on your own time and on your own devices.
  2. Do not identify your employer in your profile or in your comments.
  3. Check your privacy settings, but be aware: regardless of your settings, comments you make on social media can become public.
  4. Think before you post! DON’T make disparaging, threatening or harassing comments about your employer or co-workers; DON’T make or share discriminatory or racist comments or jokes; DO consider the implications of speaking negatively about your workplace. DO Think carefully before friending managers, colleagues and subordinates on social media.
  5. The above information has been adapted in part from AUPE’s Education course Social Media for Union Activists. Find out more about AUPE’s Education Program here. While our in-person courses are suspended as part of AUPE’s COVID-19 response, there are a number of online learning opportunities currently available for members.

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