Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives and transformed the ways we communicate, collaborate and learn. Faculty and staff are no exception to this trend. Many use social media to enhance teaching, research and professional networking. However, social media also poses unique challenges and risks, such as privacy violations, ethical dilemmas and harassment. In 2023, the Faculty issued a Social Media Task Force Report, providing policy and operational guidance to help improve the social media experience for our community.
Below are best practices and guidelines for the use of social media:
This document articulates the University’s expectations for the appropriately high standard of behaviour that is already exemplified by the majority of our clinical faculty. They apply to medical clinical faculty appointed under the University of Toronto’s Policy for Clinical Faculty, and are relevant to their interactions with any members of the University community, including undergraduate or graduate students, residents, clinical or research fellows (“learners”), other faculty members, other health care professionals, and staff. These standards may be used as a relevant factor in the evaluation of clinical faculty members.
Clinical (MD) faculty should hold and effectively model high standards of professional values, including a commitment to excellence and fair and ethical dealings with others in carrying out their professional duties, and to facilitating a psychologically and physically safe learning environment. The following illustrate some of the behaviours and characteristics that clinical faculty should consistently strive to demonstrate:
Clinical faculty members will not engage in actions inconsistent with these Standards, applicable University policy and other applicable professional standards, including but not limited to the following behaviours:
The University distinguishes between disclosures and reporting.
Disclosure is when a complainant conveys information about the conduct of a clinical faculty member to the University, or seeks information about options.
Reporting is when a complainant conveys information about the conduct of a clinical faculty member to the University with the intention that the University formally reviews and potentially acts upon the information according to the Standards or another process, which could result in remedial or disciplinary action taken against the clinical faculty member.
At the outset of any disclosure or report, the University community member receiving the disclosure or report should inform any complainant:
If an individual observes or experiences a clinical faculty member potentially breaching these Standards, and if the individual feels comfortable, willing, and judges that it is safe to do so, they may choose to approach the faculty member and communicate their concerns with the goal of ending the behaviour. This approach recognizes the important role of collegial conversation in the medical community, and emphasizes the principle of addressing problems locally wherever possible.
However, if such a conversation is inappropriate in the circumstances (e.g., it has previously been ineffective, or if more support is required due to a significant power imbalance) then a complainant may disclose their concerns to a member of the University community with whom they feel comfortable (e.g., their course or program director or the Clinical Faculty Advocate). It will be the choice of the complainant to make a disclosure or formal report, after being advised of the information above.
A formal report must be directed to the relevant University Vice-Dean or Department Chair for action, depending on the nature of the issue. In a case where a complainant has concerns about the role of the relevant Vice-Dean or Department Chair, the matter should be reported in a one-up manner to the Dean. Similarly, concerns about the Dean would be handled in the same one-up manner to the University’s Provost. In the event that a formal report is directed to someone other than the foregoing, the individual who receives the report should, in accordance with the terms of these Standards, notify the relevant Vice Dean or Department Chair, as appropriate. Please see “Jurisdiction” section for guidance on the appropriate notification and collaboration with the applicable clinical site leaders.
Individual programs and departments may have additional policies setting out the preferred reporting mechanisms. Questions about the appropriate disclosure or report handling process, or the supports available to a particular complainant, should be raised with the Faculty of Medicine’s academic lead on Professional Values or the Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions.
All parties must maintain confidentiality to the extent possible. Only those who need to be involved to review the matter, to respond or are requested to provide personal support, should be informed about the disclosure or report.
If a complainant identifies themselves to the University, but does not wish to be named to the clinical faculty member whois the subject of the disclosure or report, the complainant should be made aware:
When deciding whether to proceed with a review of an anonymous disclosure(s) or report(s), the University may consider whether the issues underlying the disclosure or report are egregious and if there is sufficient information to enable the review, and if the clinical faculty member will be able to meaningfully respond. If the University decides to proceed with an anonymous disclosure or report, the complainant(s) will not be known and so will be unable to participate in the review process or receive information about its outcome.
While a complainant may withdraw from further participation in the review process , the University may elect to proceed with a review without participation of the complainant(e.g., where the issue is egregious, or demonstrates a pattern of behaviour, if the conduct raises health and safety risks, or if there are potential CPSO reporting requirements, e.g., competence issue). In such a case, the complainant may not be advised of subsequent developments in the matter.
The University may choose not to review a disclosure or report if it determines that the disclosure or report is frivolous, has been made in bad faith, or there is insufficient information to proceed.
The University, via the Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions, bears responsibility for administering and enforcing these Standards.
Individual disclosures or reports will be reviewed by the applicable Vice-Dean, Department Chair, or Vice-Provost (the “University Leader”) unless jurisdiction is otherwise established through another policy, or if the circumstances require a different review framework.
The Vice-Provost, on identifying issues that require collaborative action with the clinical site where the faculty member is appointed, may share confidential information about the issue with a senior leader at the clinical site (e.g., CEO or delegate). The University and the clinical site will work cooperatively when taking action under the Standards.
Beyond responding to disclosures or reports submitted by complainants, the University Leader may proactively initiate a review of a clinical faculty member’s behaviour in the event that they independently identify significant issues, including in teacher evaluation forms.
While management of disclosures or reports will generally be a collaborative initiative between the University and the relevant clinical site, the following general principles will assist in making a decision with respect to jurisdiction:
If no other authority with jurisdiction compels otherwise (e.g., the law, a regulatory body, or other University policy or regulation), the initial approach to all but the most serious breaches of these Standards will be an effort to remediate the behaviour of the clinical faculty member. At this level the goal should remain internal resolution of the problem or referrals to the appropriate resources (e.g., the OMA’s Physician Health Program).
In cases where the alleged breach of professional conduct, if proven, could constitute a significant disruption or a health and safety risk to patients, students, or other members of the University or clinical community, the Vice-Provost, Relations with HealthCare Institutions, the Provost, or the President of the University, or a delegate, have authority to impose such interim conditions upon the clinical faculty member as they consider appropriate. Clinical faculty should be aware of circumstances when the University has an obligation to report their alleged conduct (either in their role as a physician or as an educational administrator) under the regulations of the CPSO.
TheUniversity will strive to identify and review disclosures or reports in a timely manner, and attempt to minimize the number of occasions on which a complainant is asked to meet, or re-tell their story. In addition, the University will strive to review complaints in a timely manner, and provide updates at key points in the process to the relevant parties.
When the University takes the lead in reviewing the disclosure or report, the University Leader will undertake the review, or if appropriate, assign a Reviewer to determine the facts, and make recommendations. TheReviewer will meet with both the clinical faculty member who is the subject of a disclosure or report, and the complainant, and communicate the following:
The Reviewer will take into account all relevant documentation and perspectives and may invite the affected parties and/or witnesses to the underlying incident(s) to provide written submissions, or the Reviewer may conduct in-person interviews. The Reviewer may invite an administrative support person to the meeting to take notes. An affected party and/or witness may be afforded an opportunity to read and confirm such notes.
The Reviewer should focus on clarifying the facts of the incidents underlying the complaint, whether they can be substantiated by witnesses, and what steps, if any the University should take to respond to the issues raised.
Once the Reviewer has come to a preliminary determination of the facts, the clinical faculty member who is the subject of the complaint will be given an opportunity to respond. After considering the clinical faculty member’s response, the Reviewer may choose to consider the matter further (e.g., if new information is raised), make a determination as to whether there was a breach of these Standards, and/or make recommendations for disposition of the complaint.
If, in the course of the Reviewer’s work, it appears that there are issues that must be addressed through an alternative process (e.g., sexual harassment, criminal behaviour, research misconduct, referral to CPSO), they will refer the matter to the appropriate body and/or advise the Complainant accordingly.
The Reviewer, when they are distinct from the University Leader, will communicate their fact-finding, whether they determined that there was a breach of these Standards, and any recommendations to the University Leader, who will then accept or reject the recommendations and make a decision. The University Leader will inform the complainant and the clinical faculty member of the results, generally in written form. Where the Reviewer and University Leader are one and the same, the University Leader will similarly issue recommendations and a decision to the complainant and the clinical faculty member.
The University Leader will also communicate their decision and recommendations to the appropriate leadership at the University and the clinical site.
The Reviewer may recommend remedial or other action or consequences in their report. If remediation is unsuccessful, if subsequent retaliatory threats or behaviour by the clinical faculty member are alleged and confirmed, or depending on the seriousness of the circumstances underlying the complaint, breaches of these Standards may result in discipline up to and including termination for cause.
The clinical faculty member will have the option to accept the decision or to seek an informal review of the decision within twenty business days after receipt of the decision/recommendations. Requests for review will be made to the appropriate“one-up” academic administrator (i.e. Dean, Vice-Dean), unless otherwise set out in applicable University policy or procedures. Alternatively, and in the appropriate circumstances, a clinical faculty member may be able access the grievance procedures according to the Procedures Manual for the Policy for Clinical (MD) Faculty).
Social Media Guide for Healthcare Professionals
Practicing in the Age of Social Media
Use of Social Media, 2021
Policy on Social MediaAdvice to the Profession: Social Media
Social Media Principles for Physiotherapists
10 Tips for Using Social Media in Professional Practice
Social Media Resources and Supports for Faculty Members
Appropriate Use of Information and Communication Technology
Freedom of Speech at the University of Toronto
Anything you post in your role as a faculty member reflects on the institution. Be professional and respectful at all times on your social media channels. Do not engage in arguments or extensive debates with naysayers on your channels.
Transparency on social media is important because it fosters trust, credibility, and accountability in online communication. Make it clear in what capacity you are posting by declaring it in your bio. It is common to include "views expressed are my own". Be yourself and use your own “voice.”
Being a consumer of social media is essential to your ability to be a successful producer of social media content. “Listen” to online conversations on your preferred tools – be they blogs, Twitter, Facebook or anything else — to maintain a clear and current understanding of what is relevant and of interest to your audience.
Social media presences require diligent care and feeding. If you don't have the time or resources to check on these sites at least a few minutes each day and post fresh content several times a week, reconsider social media use at this time. Your channel is only as interesting as your last post — if that post is several months old, visitors will consider your feed out of date.
One of the great benefits of social media is the ability to share information almost instantly with a vast audience. This timeliness is also one of the expectations of that audience. Be prepared for situations to progress quickly. A short amount of accurate information delivered at the time of need can sometimes be more valuable than a full report delivered well after the fact.
Think before you post, remembering that anything you share within social media, even within a closed network, is not private. It can and will be shared, stored and spread globally. Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of a newspaper.
Be conservative about the amount of personal information you share, such as your location, schedule and images. If you have concerns about your personal safety, reach out to the Community Safety Office or if there is an imminent threat, contact your local police services (911) or the RCMP.
Balancing your professional and personal social media presences can be tricky, particularly if you are an avid user. Keep in mind the goals you have for your channel when posting there. Are you posting research for colleagues or information for the public?
If you see abusive behaviour online, each platform has a way to report the source account. If the behaviour doesn't meet the reporting standard but is disagreeable, you can block the account (see the Reporting section below).
Community guidelines on social media are a set of rules and standards that govern user behaviour and promote a safe, respectful and inclusive online community. They vary depending on the social media platform and may include rules about posting content, commenting, messaging, sharing and engaging with other users. The guidelines typically prohibit behaviour that is illegal, harmful, offensive, or disruptive, such as hate speech, harassment, spam, fake news, nudity or violence. They may also define the consequences of violating the guidelines, such as warnings, suspension, or termination of the user's account.
Privacy settings on social media are a crucial aspect of managing your online presence and protecting your personal information from unauthourized access or misuse. Social media platforms provide a variety of privacy settings that allow users to control who can see their posts, updates, photos, and other information, as well as limit the amount of data collected and shared with third-party apps or advertisers. Understanding and adjusting your privacy settings can help you balance your need for social interaction and self-expression with your right to privacy and security.
Location settings are used to share your geographical location information with the social media platform and other users. By turning on location settings, you allow the social media app to track your location using GPS or Wi-Fi signals and add location tags to your posts or updates. This feature can help people discover new places or events, connect with friends nearby, and customize their social media experience. However, it's important to be aware of the privacy implications of sharing your location data, as it can reveal your movements, habits, and even your home address. It's recommended to review your social media location settings and adjust them according to your preferences and security needs.
Blocking or unfriending users on social media is a common practice to protecting yourself from unwanted interactions or harassment. Social media platforms allow users to block or unfriend other users, which means that the blocked or unfriended user will no longer be able to see your profile, posts, or updates, and you will no longer be able to see theirs. This can be useful for dealing with spam, trolls, cyberbullying, or stalking, as well as for maintaining privacy and boundaries.
Reporting users on social media refers to the process of flagging and notifying the platform's administrators of any abusive, offensive or harmful behaviour or content posted by others. Reporting users helps to keep social media communities safe, civil and respectful by enforcing the platform's community guidelines and policies. The reporting process may involve providing evidence, such as screenshots or links, and describing the issue in detail. After receiving a report, the social media platform may investigate the issue and take appropriate action, such as removing the content, suspending or banning the user's account or notifying law enforcement.
Two-Factor Authentication, or 2FA, protects online accounts by requiring provide two forms of identification at log in. The two factors typically used are a password or PIN and a message sent to a mobile device or a one-time use code provided by a third-party authenticator app. By requiring both factors, 2FA makes it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to access your account even if they have obtained your password.
If you are a Temerty Medicine faculty member experiencing unprofessional behaviour, please contact email@example.com for a confidential conversation.