The Social Media Challenge – Discipline, Good Character, And The Right To Freedom Of Expression

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Professional regulators are beginning to grapple with the impact that social media such as Facebook and blog postings will have on their regulatory functions. Just as cases on the impact of social media in the workplace are starting to work their way through the legal system, so too are cases involving professional regulatory bodies. Social networking sites and internet postings can provide evidence relevant to the assessment of good character. They may also demonstrate behaviour that is unprofessional. As professional regulatory bodies in Canada begin to consider issues involving social media, they will also have to remain mindful of the impact that their actions have on their members’ right to freedom of expression.

Discipline

It is well established that professional regulatory bodies are able to deal with the misconduct of members even if the misconduct does not arise from the member’s activities as a registered member. While private conduct will not always be unprofessional conduct, it can become unprofessional conduct when it affects the member’s integrity, professional character or impacts on the reputation of the profession as a whole. When members inappropriately use social media such as internet blogs, it sometimes raises the issue of whether such “off duty conduct” is unprofessional.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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