Police officers today face the problem of learning how to manage the private lives on social media given the fact they work in the public sector. It can be exceptionally hard for law enforcement officers to keep their private lives private. There are so many different ways in which the information an officer might post on his social media site that can affect his security and that of his family as well as his fellow officers.
Does This Mean Officers Should Not Use Social Media?
Absolutely not! However, what it does mean, is that you need to be very aware of what you do with your various social media accounts. Your social media is open to being seen by untold numbers of people, not all of which have the best of intentions. It cannot be said enough, that you must be VERY careful with what you post. Many officers have found themselves facing disciplinary actions from within their own departments for things they have posted.
Many of these cases occurred despite the officers in question best attempts to keep their posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and forth private. At some point, a derogatory post, an inappropriate photo, even posts that don’t seem to be offensive in nature, but could be misconstrued can easily end up being seen by the wrong person. This can happen even if you screen your friends lists and maximized your security settings.
The thing is, that no matter how you have your security settings set up, if a friend shares your post and then share it on their page, it could easily end up in the wrong hands. Whether it is pictures of your brother and sister LEOs in uniform together, a derogatory comment, even an off-color joke, things like this do NOT belong on your social media. One of the hardest parts about being in law enforcement is that there are certain aspects of your life you simply don’t get to share with the general public.
Keep Yourself to Yourself
One of the most important things to keep in mind as a law enforcement officer, is that you need to keep the amount of personal information you put on any of the many different forms of social media to a bare minimum. This information might be accessed by suspects, those who seek to do you harm, even defense attorneys will access this information in an attempt to gain leverage over you or do you and your family harm.
The best way to sum it all up is to simply say that while there is nothing wrong with making use of the many different social media platforms out there, you must be extremely careful with what types of information you post. Social media continues to evolve at a pace most law enforcement departments can’t keep up with. As such, many do not have adequate rules in place regarding how their officers use social media. No matter what the rules are, it is up to each individual officer to protect themselves and their families by using social media wisely.