Mind the Tweets, IOSH Ethical Practice Manager Advises

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health's ethical practice manager, Simon Buckler, offered sage advice to its 44,000 members in a recent blog post about using (and misusing) social media.

"As guidance, IOSH recommends that members avoid making controversial comments online that they would not be comfortable making in a print copy magazine. In England and Wales it appears that online message boards or blog content, which is public, is subject to the same laws as print content," Buckler wrote. He explained that those posting or repeating comments on social media platforms members should assess the risk because they may be in the same legal position as newspaper journalists: Individuals may consider the comments defamatory and sue for damages.

He cited two court cases. In one, the former deputy chairman of a political party successfully claimed a tweet naming him had a defamatory meaning, and as a result, the defendant/Twitter account user and another person who had retweeted defamatory comments by a third party both paid agreed damages, Buckler wrote. The second case, a man was convicted of sending a message of "menacing character" using a public electronic communications network after he jokingly tweeted about blowing up an airport. The conviction was overturned on appeal.

"Regardless of whether what a member says online leads to any civil or criminal proceedings, it may embarrass their family and friends. Members are advised to consider whether comments they make online may also be read by potential employers and clients," he wrote. "Any member wanting more information or guidance can download the IOSH Code of Conduct or, alternatively, email simon.buckler@iosh.co.uk."

Posted by Jerry Laws on Jun 25, 2014


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