Professional ethics & social media

March 12, 2020

Social media is not a private place and certainly many professionals concerned about ethics make the decision to opt out.  For some it is a place to interact with colleagues, debate and even self-promote.  It can be all of those things but for professionals, using it requires caution.  Professionals are regulated and their conduct can be scrutinised and this includes conduct on social media.

With high profile users publishing unfettered content on social media a professional can easily compromise their ethics potentially inadvertently. 

Twitter is renowned for being a forum where it is the norm to use rude and offensive language.  An argument recently advanced in the High Court by a barrister included that this behaviour on Twitter was indeed the norm.  They argued that their right to a private life was a human right that a regulatory body should not consider when they are dealing with inappropriate conduct.  The court did not find favour with the argument that an offensive post was acceptable on Twitter as it was not the case that every user posts in that way.  The court  also concluded that the Bar Standards guidance included a person’s private life may be considered when determining appropriate conduct and as such a professional should have regard to this when interacting on social media.

Whilst a court can deal with an appeal from a professional regulatory or disciplinary body it will be slow to intervene as it has been recognised that the tribunal who considered the matter comprises of experts and informed persons.  This is why it is imperative to seek appropriate legal assistance at the earliest stage and the High Court has been critical when this has not been done.

If you have any queries about the relationship between your professional obligations and your online presence, contact us at any time on 0845 200 3367 or at