Guidelines for Personal Use of Social Media

It’s important to remember that you can be held personally and legally responsible for the publicly made opinions and comments you make, even on personally maintained sites and pages. This means you cannot share confidential or proprietary information, photographs or videos about Providence Health & Services on personal sites. You are required to maintain patient privacy by following Providence Privacy and Security policies and standards and HIPAA rules at all times. Examples of such confidential or proprietary information that cannot be shared include: protected health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), business plans, and other information or data, whether conveyed in writing or orally, that is known to be confidential or proprietary.

People of Providence are also encouraged to exercise caution with regard to exaggeration, colorful language, guesswork, speaking in generalities, obscenity, copyrighted materials, legal conclusions, and derogatory remarks or characterizations. Our values should guide our behavior. Never forget that anonymous comments sent to websites often can be traced to the sender via email address. 

Nothing in these guidelines is intended to restrict employees from discussion, transmission or disclosure of wages, hours and working conditions in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.

When creating a personal site or commenting on other sites and you include your connection to Providence as your employer, you need to make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Providence Health & Services. In those circumstances, you may want to include this disclaimer: “The views expressed on this [blog/website] are my own and do not reflect the views of Providence.” Use good judgment and strive for accuracy in your communications. Errors and omissions reflect poorly on Providence, and may result in liability for you or Providence Health & Services.

If you support or oppose a political candidate you should either not mention your connection to Providence or make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of Providence Health & Services. In these circumstances, you may want to include this disclaimer: “The views expressed on this [blog/website] are my own and do not reflect the views of Providence.”

Use a personal email address (not your address) as your primary means of identification. Just as you would not use Providence stationery for a letter to the editor with your personal views, do not use your Providence e-mail address for anything other than official business purposes. This helps ensure that anyone reading your blog, posting or other online activity understands that you are not speaking on behalf of Providence. 

With the exception of the discussion of wages, hours and working conditions between employees, if your blog, posting or other online activities are inconsistent with, or would negatively impact Providence’s reputation or brand, you should not refer to Providence Health & Services or identify your connection to Providence.

Be respectful and professional to fellow team members (supervisors, physicians, nurses, co-workers, etc.), business partners, competitors and patients. Be thoughtful and accurate when posting comments, and be respectful of how others may be affected. Those that identify themselves as connected to Providence in their postings and comment on Providence at any time should notify their manager of the existence of their posting to avoid any surprises.

Provide Context to Your Argument. You should provide enough support in your posting to help readers understand your reasoning, be it positive or negative. Readers generally appreciate multiple perspectives, so help them to understand your perspective by providing context to your opinion.

Engage in Private Feedback. In order to maintain an open dialogue that engages everyone, contributors to online blogs and conversations often welcome “off-line” feedback from their colleagues who would like to privately respond, make suggestions, or report errors without having their comments appear publicly.

Ensure that your blogging and social networking activity does not interfere with your work commitments.

You should always respect copyright and other laws. Do not post any information or other material protected by copyright without the permission of the copyright owner. Do not use any words, logos, or other marks that would infringe upon the trademark, service mark, certificate mark, or other intellectual property rights of the owners of such marks without the permission of such owners. Do not use any Providence logos or trademarks for any commercial purpose, or in any way that would reasonably mislead others into thinking that the communication is an official Providence communication. 

Ask the Marketing/Communications/Public Relations Department. You can contact your local or regional marketing/communications/public relations department for assistance or you can contact the System Office or your Regional Marketing and Communications team if you have any questions about what is appropriate to include in your blog or social networking profile. Remember that if you wouldn’t want your manager or others at Providence to see your comments, it is unwise to post them on the Internet.