Social Media (mistakes)

The Chiropractic Council of NSW continually strives for continuity of public health and safety through various actions including the manner in which chiropractors adhere to public health guidelines.

In recent times there have been a number of complaints from the public that relate to health professionals making certain comments on what was supposedly private social pages, which include platforms such as Facebook.

For example, complaints to the Council have referred to certain health professionals posting links to conspiracy theorists’ websites, anti vaccination groups, radical religious groups’ comments, news sites of 5G activists, COVID-19 misinformation and other comments that could be viewed as alarmist and contravene the Chiropractic Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct and Social Media Guidelines.

The Social Media Guidelines state that:

While you may hold personal beliefs about the efficacy or safety of some public health initiatives, you must make sure that any comments you make on social media are consistent with the codes, standards and guidelines of your profession and do not contradict or counter public health campaigns or messaging. A registered health practitioner who makes comments, endorses or shares information which contradicts the best available scientific evidence may give legitimacy to false health-related information and breach their professional responsibilities. Practitioners need to take care when commenting, sharing or ‘liking’ such content if not supported by best available scientific evidence.

It is emerging from having counselling sessions with the practitioners in question, that they claim to be surprised to learn that their 'private social media' online statements and claims have been seen and followed by others who are not known to them. These practitioners have claimed that since these posts are not on their business media sites, they had neglected to consider that their comments could be both seen as well as be considered to be inappropriate, especially coming from a registered health professional. The Council emphasise to registered health professionals the fact that they are always perceived as being registered health professionals, especially on the Internet, no matter where their comments may be seen.

We can’t just take off our ‘doctor hat’ and make inappropriate health comments online simply because it is a weekend or it is after business hours from the clinic.

The Chiropractic Board of Australia’s Code of Conduct and Social Media Guideline should be reviewed regularly. These documents set out the essential values, qualities and standards of care expected of all chiropractors. The Code seeks to assist and support chiropractors to deliver safe and effective health services within an ethical framework. For some health professionals, the foray into online activities and spur of the moment comments, which can never be assumed to be totally private, have led to complaints and action by the Council.

We trust that all who have been through this type of process have been enlightened and have learned another helpful lesson for the sake of their professional future, not to mention the all important aspect of public health and safety.