In recent months we’ve seen some stories about workers who’ve gotten into trouble because of what they have posted on social media.

We always caution our members on the dos and don’ts of using Facebook and Twitter, and now we would like to offer some guidelines for using social media without getting into trouble.

Social media is a great way to communicate with other people, but always be mindful of what you post. Not only should you think twice before putting something online, but this general rule of thumb can also apply to text messages, what you say on a listserv or chat about on IM. Think twice about how what you say and how it may reflect on you before posting messages. And remember, what you post online should never be considered as private – once you post it, you can’t take it back. And with so many users anyone can share it with the masses on the Internet.

•    Always take responsibility for what you post online. Think about this as a measuring stick: if you think your comments or photos would embarrass your mother, then don’t post!
•    Avoid posting abusive, insubordinate, incendiary or disloyal remarks (images) that pertain to elected leaders, fire departments, the media or about other fire fighters.
•    Avoid picking fights or arguing online.
•    Don’t post anything that will put you under scrutiny by your employer.
•    Use your best common sense when posting online because even if you delete information it can still cache on your computer. If you feel unsure about posting something– listen to the warning bells.
•    Be mindful of where you use social media. Many fire departments are cracking down on fire fighters’ use of social media in fire stations. So be aware of any rules that may pertain to you and using social media.

Bottom line – be careful of what you post online and remember there is no such thing as a right to privacy when it comes to the Internet.