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13 Jul 2023

Professional standards

Maintaining professional boundaries on social media

With the increasing use of social media in our personal and working lives, it’s important to remember the standards set for Scotland’s social work, social care and children and young people workforce.

The SSSC Code of Practice for Social Service Workers says:

‘I will not behave, while in or outside work, in a way which would bring my suitability to work in social services into question.’

This includes using social media. The important thing is how you behave online, not the fact you use social media.

Posting a comment, video or photograph, sharing someone else’s post or replying to some else’s blog, video, post or podcast could all be things that an employer or the SSSC may investigate. 

While some behaviours may fall below our thresholds for opening an investigation, there are others on social media which may bring a worker’s fitness to practise into question, particularly if they have displayed discriminatory attitudes or breached a service user’s confidentiality. Workers should also be mindful of what they say about their colleagues or employer on social media.

Can I friend someone using my service?

It’s very important to maintain professional boundaries when using social media. Think carefully before accepting friend requests from people who use your service or their friends or family. If a worker only knows someone because they use the service they work in, they should not accept the friend request. 

Can I speak about my work on social media?

Many organisations and workers use social media to promote their service, share ideas and connect with others working in similar roles. It’s important to remember never to share confidential or personal information relating to people using services or their families. 

If you wanted to share photos to promote the work your service is doing, you must get permission from everyone in the photos before you post it.

What changes can I make to my own profile?

It’s important to think about how easy it is to find information about you online. To help maintain boundaries, you can:

  • limit who can read your posts
  • turn off the ability for your profile to appear in online searches
  • make your account private on platforms like Facebook and Instagram
  • update privacy settings regularly as these can change.

Remember, everything posted online is public. People can easily find, copy and share your posts without you knowing. Posts can be traced back to you even if you delete them. There is always a permanent record. 

Guidance available for you

Download our social media guidance social service workers for more information: 

You can also watch our social media guidance video.

Our social media guidance for social service workers provides general advice. You should always refer to your own employer’s policies or guidance on using social media as it will be particular to the service where you work.

Contact information

Sandra Wilson
Communications Officer
Scottish Social Services Council