representative image of people using phones

Are you confident in your social media use?  Figuring out privacy in the age of social media can be confusing. For International Privacy Day, we’re looking at when and why Sinai Health cares about what you post on social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TIk Tok and blogs).

Many people don’t know that information, photos and videos posted on social media are not private. Not only are social media platforms not secure, all content is owned by the companies that provide those platforms. Companies can use your posts and information for all kinds of reasons and can change their terms of use anytime. Privacy laws don’t always apply to these companies.

For those reasons, social media cannot be used to transmit confidential information about patients or about our hospital.  “Private” groups or messages are not really private. The company can see them and use them. If you delete a post or message, the company may still keep a copy – that means that a post or message never really goes away once it’s created.

Why should you care?

Sinai Health’s Code of Conduct and Privacy policies apply to all of your activities, whether you are at work or talking about work, as do your professional standards.

This mean that you may not post any content that could identify a patient or family online (including a picture, video or description). Keep in mind that people may be identified if they are described without their name. You should also take care before posting your opinion or information about your work, friending or following colleagues or patients, or engaging with vendors online.

What should you do?

Use the ‘Golden Rule’ – if you wouldn’t want someone to post a description or picture about you, don’t post a description or picture about them. Express consent (asking out loud or in writing) is always required before posting a description, picture or video about a patient or colleague.

Check out these tips from Canada’s privacy commissioner on how to protect yourself when using social media.

Many professional colleges also have guidance around using social media in the workplace and in relation to patients, including the College of Physicians & Surgeons and College of Nurses.

This message is from the Privacy Officers of Michael Garron Hospital, Sinai Health System, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto Grace Health Centre, Unity Health Toronto, and West Park.