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Social networking sites such as Facebook could be a great platform for building peer-to-peer relationships.  However, one must clearly be aware that anyone can snoop information about you if you are careless about your privacy settings.   Your  postings both in text and image have the potential to create transference, boundary and trust issues with your clients.

These days, many practitioners even have a fan page of their professional practices.  Most claim that they do not accept their clients as fans but how can one ensure this?  Don’t they know that anyone could create a facebook page under any name?

Because Facebook mixes your personal and professional life, it requires careful and responsible attention at all times.  As a budding art therapist, I recently started making changes to my FB page.   Although I am not an active user of FB, I became aware of how immature my past postings were when a friend of friend recently commented on one of my early cartoonish photos.

Here are some general rules I compiled if you use FB to protect yourself and your clients.

1.  Check your current profile picture.  Be very very mindful when posting your profile pictures.   Common Facebook faux pas include drunken and too revealing photographs.  Some even post pictures of their children and wedding.   I feel this is too personal and could create major transference issues with your clients.   Try to be as professional and neutral as possible when picking your profile picture.

2.  Check your profile and if you have a lot of info to share, such as political views  and religion, make sure only your trusted friends can see them.  Do not include “friends of friends” as your friends may not be as selective as you are.  Best practice is to customize the privacy setting so only your “real”  friends can see this info and not all of your 400 FB friends.

3.  Make your likes and dislikes only viewable to you.

4.  Make your friends list and photos are only viewable to your “real” friends.  Privacy setting lets you specify which friends you want to show these.

5.  If you want to ensure nobody finds you on FB, change the search setting to “Friends Only.”  Unfortunately, you cannot filter out certain friends for the search section.

6.  When you write comments on your friends’ FB pages, be mindful of the language you use and information you post.

7.  Do not become “friends” with your clients and past clients.  This is just common sense.

8.  Do not reveal your complete birth date in FB.  In this case, your financial life could be in danger.  The complete date and place of your birth could be used to predict most of the digits in your Social Security number.  With just a few meaningful bits of information, an identity thief can even apply for a loan in your name.

9.  Do not disclose your phone number and email address in FB.  Your family and friends probably don’t need to refer to FB to contact you.

10.  Do not use a weak password.  I cannot emphasize this enough as one of my friends’ email account was hacked by someone she knew.   Her password was just too easy and predictable.  In her defense, she thought nobody could guess it because it was too easy.

Below is an interesting article from The Washington Post that we should all think about.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/29/AR2010032902942_pf.html

Please share your thoughts, especially about “To Google or not” section of the article.  

– by Nancy Choe

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