In the age of constant information sharing, it’s important to remember what you can share on social media and what you should keep completely private. Before your next post on Facebook or Twitter, take a moment to check your privacy settings and think about any possible implications. Whether you are sharing future vacation plans, checking in at home, or sharing information pertaining to your health, it’s particularly important to be mindful of your audience.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal privacy and security laws protect your health information kept by health care providers, health plans, and organizations acting on their behalf. However, you should know that information you willingly share on social media or on a health-related online community/message board is not protected.
There are a number of ways you can help protect your health information while using social media. Here are some tips:
- Think carefully before you post anything regarding your health that you would not want to be made public.
- “Oops! I’ve done this!” Tip: Reverse Google search your name. Many public posts associated with your comment will end up as a search result. You can back track and delete these posts.
- If you feel like you absolutely must reach out to a health organization on social media, use the private messaging feature of the social media platform you are using.
- If you still absolutely must post to their public-facing areas, consider using the privacy setting to limit others’ access.
- Don’t post about the medications you are taking. Even in your trusted networks, medication misuse and abuse is possible.
- If you call out sick to work, don’t post about your activities throughout the day.
- It’s tempting to want to post about how awful you feel, but this is information you might want to keep private from co-workers and future employers.
- Do not disclose information about your insurance provider. With a little digging, a scammer can put your name and other personal information together and do a lot of damage.
- When posting to health boards while doing research, use a handle that does not include any part of your name.
Social media is a great place to connect with friends, but not everyone you are connected with has your best intentions in mind. A little extra caution when it comes to your health information (or any personal information for that matter) can prevent identity theft and other criminal activity. Set up a reminder on your calendar to routinely do maintenance on your social media profiles. Most importantly, don’t forget to remind your loved ones!
For more information on how to keep your health information private and secure visit, please click here.