Ethically, what would you do? Personal and professional boundaries in social media


Jessica is travelling on her first work assignment since she began working at National Defence a couple of years ago. This assignment is sure to be a very busy, and interesting trip for her, as she will be part of a group of public servants attending an international meeting.

While waiting at the airport for her flight, Jessica updates her social media status to tell all her followers that she will be taking part in this exciting opportunity as a member of a DND delegation attending the meeting.

When she receives great feedback on this first post, and many people encourage her to continue to provide updates, she decides to “document” her experience through her social media accounts. Jessica continues posting personal comments and pictures throughout her trip of both her formal and informal activities.

After several days, Jessica receives a private message from one of her co-workers, who also happens to be a friend, telling her that she should not have posted anything and should delete everything as soon as possible. Jessica thinks her friend is exaggerating, but then starts to wonder if she’s done something wrong.

A day later on Jessica’s Facebook page, her aunt Jasmine, who does not work for Defence or any other government office, posts a message asking if she (the aunt) should vote for the United Canada Party at the upcoming elections, since they provide such interesting opportunities for her beloved niece.

Ethically, what should Jessica do? Is Jessica’s friend correct that Jessica should not have posted about her work on any personal social media account? Given that she has posted, how should she reply to her aunt’s request for a political opinion?

Reader feedback is welcome at +Ethics-Ethique@ADM(RS) DEP@Ottawa-Hull.

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