Ethical Issues Related To Social Media

Discuss at least two potential ethical issues that could be of concern with nursing use of social media.

Submission Instructions:

  • Your initial post should be at least 500 words, formatted and cited in current APA style with support from at least 2 academic sources.

Ethical Concerns Related to social media.


Ethics are the accepted code of behavior in dealing with what is good and evil in moral duty or obligations. Social media and healthcare have been interrelated elements in the healthcare setting as it helps in awareness provision, health promotion, enhancing peer support, bringing new dimensions to society, and facilitating education on healthcare. However, when it is not used with care, it can endanger the well-being of patients and other professionals in healthcare. Ethical concerns relating to health care and social media are multi-layered and, at times, complex as healthcare professionals have increased social media usage (Hammer, 2017). The paper will discuss ethical issues concerning nursing use of social media, majoring on the following concerns: patient-nurse communication through social media and social media and Electronic Health Records (EHRs).


Patient-nurse communication through social media must be characterized by high privacy, trust, and confidentiality, as the information shared should be stored safely in the patient records. Nurses should be aware and cautious about the provisions of privacy guaranteed by each social media platform they use to facilitate communication with the patient and ensure that their content is protected (Haahr et al., 2020). This is essential in creating a clear division between the professional and personal life of a nurse from the view of the patient. Also, trust and confidentiality between a nurse and a patient can be threatened when the patient notices that their behavior can be tracked digitally.


Nurses must ethically enhance judgment and practices when navigating online space to maintain professional relationships and confidentiality with the patient. Essentially, the most relevant concerns in using social media and healthcare are confidence and privacy, which must be preserved carefully. Nurses must ensure that they maintain the borders between private and professional intact.


The health care system has shifted from manual health care records to electronic health records systems (EHRs). EHRs must facilitate accuracy and efficiency of service delivery in healthcare sectors with a significant reduction in medical errors. However, when not correctly used, it will expose the patient’s health records to unauthorized people, which is against the ethical and legal requirements of HIPAA. Health organizations must ensure that their nurses know how to collect and enhance data security of health information generated through such systems and the use of social media (Hammer, 2017). Also, the patients must be aware of the nature of personal health information that should be protected and disclosed without harming their well-being. When nurses and patients understand how to use social media platforms appropriately, they will tend to understand the information they should share on social media. It will increase transparency, clarity, and confidentiality, building trust between nurse and patient.


In conclusion, despite the practical electronic communication, the nurse should not substitute face-to-face appointments between the nurse and the patient. This is because the contextual body language in face-to-face encounters will help solve ambiguities of written language, which might be problematic, especially when the patient is interpreting the information (Arigo et al., 2018). Generally, when it comes to health care and social media, ethical concerns must be a key element in the establishment of a potent space of communication between the patient and the nurse or other healthcare providers. This is because social media communication may include self-disclosure of high levels of the healthcare experiences of a patient.




Arigo, D., Pagoto, S., Carter-Harris, L., Lillie, S. E., & Nebeker, C. (2018). They use social media for health research: Methodological and ethical considerations for recruitment and intervention delivery. Digital health, 4, 2055207618771757. (Links to an external site.)


Haahr, A., Norlyk, A., Martinsen, B., & Dreyer, P. (2020). Nurse’s experiences of ethical dilemmas: A review. Nursing Ethics, 27(1), 258-272. (Links to an external site.)


Hammer, M. J. (2017, July). Ethical Considerations When Using Social Media for Research. In Oncology nursing forum (Vol. 44, No. 4).

Ethical Issues Related to Social Media


With the growing popularity of social media, it is of the utmost importance that attention be brought to the potential repercussions of carelessness with this concept. While advancements in this technology have allowed for connections to be made with a growing population, this can be at the detriment of a patient’s privacy and right to refuse. In this paper I will be examining the potential ethical issues that could arise from misuse of social media.


Patient Health Information


Irresponsibility can have dire consequences in the realm of nursing, these are cases where the nurse is not using tools and knowledge in a reasonable or correct manner. Social media is not a bad concept when used in a responsible manner that does not disrupt the autonomy of another. However, there is the potential for ethical issues to arise and these “Ethical concerns still need to be addressed.” (River-Romero et al, 2020) When attempting to post a picture or video online within the hospital building there is an inherent risk that a patient’s private health information could be exposed to a wide number of individuals. This would be ethically wrong and could have legal implications as well. A patient should not have their information be made public without their consent. The patient may have a condition that they do not want anyone but their healthcare team knowing and will be compromised using social media.




A nurse could also pose the risk of committing an ethically wrong act by posting a picture/video of the patient themselves. Perhaps the patient does not want anyone knowing that they are in the hospital, the nurse would be violating the patient’s wishes by posting them on their social media account. The patient should have a right to decide whether they allow this sort of action and doing so without their permission would be unethical. The research I found has stated that “Unauthorized postings of patient health information, pictures, patient-doctor communication blogs, and images with clear patient identification are commonly witnessed unprofessional behaviors.” (Guraya et al, 2021)




In conclusion social media can have many benefits in providing multiple users an avenue to exchange thoughts and ideas to a wide population. This also leads to an increase in risk to potential ethical misconduct within the nursing workplace. Patient’s private information could be left exposed to varying levels of individuals without their consent. As well as potentially showing individuals on film without their knowing or permission. This is imperative to how nurses are viewed as professionals and keeping patient’s information safe.



Guraya, S. S., Guraya, S. Y., & Yusoff, M. (2021). Preserving professional identities, behaviors, and values in digital professionalism using social networking sites; a systematic review. BMC Medical Education, 21(1), 381. (Links to an external site.)


Rivera-Romero, O., Konstantinidis, S., Denecke, K., Gabarrón, E., Petersen, C., Househ, M., Merolli, M., & Mayer, M. Á. (2020). Ethical Considerations for Participatory Health through Social Media: Healthcare Workforce and Policy Maker Perspectives. Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 29(1), 71–76.