Social media checklist

Who should use this Guideline?

This Guideline will assist anyone who contributes to social media networks and sites in the course of their employment by a Queensland government agency.

What is social media?

Social media is a general term for a diverse range of online media tools commonly based around user generated content.  Social media enables people to create, share or exchange information, ideas, pictures, videos and sound in online communities and networks.

Why is privacy important for social media?

The privacy principles in the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) regulate how government agencies collect, store, use and disclose personal information.   Social media postings will generally include at least some personal information, even if it is limited to the name of the person who posted the content.  Because social media is based online and, in many cases, on servers based overseas, agencies will need to ensure their privacy obligations, including the rules about disclosure  and transferring personal information outside Australia. 

This checklist provides some questions to consider before you post personal information on social media. The checklist should be considered alongside agency-specific guidelines and policies governing social media use in your workplace.

Checklist - is your use of social media privacy respectful?

Yes No
Have you set the privacy settings?

Most social media provides the capacity for you to limit the audience with whom you share your posts. However, keep in mind that you have little to no control over what will happen to information once posted. If someone decides to re-publish your content, it may end up with people and places that you would not have chosen. You should bear this potential in mind before you post personal information.

Have you kept personal information in your post to a minimum?

Personal information is increasingly a valuable commodity.  Some uses - such as targeted marketing and advertising - can be annoying to individuals. Personal information can also be used for criminal purposes such as identity theft, fraud and harassment. Be aware of this potential when you post not only other peoples’ personal information but also your own.

Have you obtained the consent of others before posting their personal information?

Consent is a strong privacy permission. You choose what you post on social media about yourself. You should not assume that other people would necessarily consent to your choice to post their personal information online. The test is not whether you consider the information is harmless, the test is whether the other person would have chosen to post this information themselves.

Do you know all the people in your social media group or network?

While some social media sites require members to provide their real names, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that people are who they say they are. Sometimes this disguise can mask a malicious intent. If you wouldn’t declare your personal information to a crowded room of strangers why would you post the same information online? If you don’t fully know or trust the people in your social media group, you should exercise the same caution online as you would in person. 

Would your agency agree to your post?

Once personal information is posted online, it can never truly be recalled or forgotten. If you post something online for a work purpose, it not only reflects on you but also your agency. The IP Act allows an individual whose privacy has been breached to make a complaint against your employing agency. Before you post – ask yourself whether the information you are sharing is something your agency would approve of. Additionally, how would future employers view your posts?


Current as at: July 13, 2015