Social Media Surveillance In Social Work: Practice Realities And Ethical Implications.
Byrne, Julie. Kirwan, Gloria. Mc Guckin, Conor.
Published: May-October 2019
Journal of Technology in Human Services
Vol. 37, No. 2-3 , p. 142-158
Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 20017
This article reports on findings from a study with recently qualified social workers on the use of social media in their practice. The findings reported here are drawn from a broader study on the use of electronic communications conducted with both newly qualified teachers and social workers. The focus group data reported here provide an insight into the practice realities associated with the use of social media by clients and social workers. The qualitative methodology employed helps to reveal the richness and complexity of technology use in practice. This rich picture reveals multi-directional surveillance, by clients and social workers, facilitated by social media. This includes surveillance by clients taking videos of meetings without consent. The article also highlights situations when social workers themselves consider it acceptable to gather information on clients through social media. The research identifies a range of ethical issues for social workers to navigate and highlights their need for support and guidance in the form of standards, codes, and education and training. The surveillance lens illuminates the ethical dilemmas being faced with reference to concepts such as power, privacy and consent as well as the broader debate of care and control in social work. (Author abstract)
social work; ethics; social workers; social media; therapeutic intervention; data collection; communication techniques; confidentiality; professional training