Easiest way to protect yourself? It's not ignoring social media altogether. My colleague Art Bowker wrote recently about cyber-impersonation, a form of harassment, and how an offender could use social media and the lack of an officer's online presence to target family and friends along with the officer.
Have accounts, and know what you're doing with them. Even if you're connecting mainly with family and friends, and you don't identify yourself as a police officer and/or your agency, keep your professionalism in the back of your mind. That means thinking about how social media use can advance your career.
It's not just about using LinkedIn to connect with other police officers and commanders. It's about things like blogging about your specialty or interest areas, tweeting with other members of the investigative community, asking and answering questions on resources like Quora, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and “old-fashioned” listservs and forums.
(It goes without saying that these activities should be restricted to off-duty hours. As Frank and I discussed, what if something went down while you were texting or blogging on duty, and you didn't notice it, or were too distracted to respond with the appropriate mindset?)
I'm looking forward to the next show. If you didn't get a chance to listen, go to http://www.officer.com/10472966 and click on the episode dated 11-17-11. And be sure to leave me a comment below if you have any questions!
- IACP Center for Social Media
- How Safe are Those “Off-line” Officers?
- Police Strugge to Engage On Twitter