“The Uncharted Territory of Social Media”

Social media has created a significant shift in the way people are communicating and sharing ideas online. Personal relationships and identities are forever etched in each electronic keystroke that we take. Ideas and political movements that are sparked online can take off like wildfire through millions of online forums, RSS feeds, blogs, Facebook posts, and twitter feed.  Assignment confidentiality and ethics can be breached innocently in only a few seconds and create a major ethical dilemma that lasts a lifetime. Your smartphone may post a specific assignment location, or someone may take a picture in a public venue while you are interpreting and post it on Facebook. Posts that were once thought harmless or innocent can cost a job or online reputation as more and more stakeholders, employers, consumers, and colleagues are using it to connect with others in the field. The whole notion of confidentiality and ethics are evolving with the advent of this new technology.

Social media is allowing us to learn from others, share new information and ideas, and connect with others in the field. We are also able to promote branding as independent contractors, agencies, or online personalities. Also because of technology advances we are now able to interpret remotely and in many 2-D environments without being at the physical location of the consumers.  Interpreter students are taking online courses for interpreting and American Sign Language classes in greater numbers than ever before.  As opportunities to harness the power of social media and using it for positive change continue to rise, accessibility to social media continues to become more accessible because of smartphones, Ipads, etc. We have a powerful tool for the interpreting industry to create and lead positive action.  With interpreters on Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogging, Tweeting, sharing pictures on Instagram, exchanging ideas on Pintrest, creating clogs on YouTube and Vimeo, developing personal web pages, posting resumes and jobs online, etc. there is a strong web presence for the field.

As technology and social media become more of a main-stay, the interpreting industry has a responsibility to ensure that ethical online behavior, as well as confidentiality, is being upheld while fostering the evolution of ideas, new connections, learning opportunities, professional ‘branding’, and reflective opportunities are occurring online. Nancy Flynn writes that the first step of an action plan for any industry is to develop a “…social media policy team to oversee the development and implementation of your organization’s formal rules, written policies, and ongoing compliance management program. A social media policy in which would identify and incorporate industry values, assigning roles, protect privacy and would clarify the line between personal and professional lives. Having NAD and RID work together to develop the groundwork for social media guidelines in the interpreting industry will ensure the ability to move forward with confidence and clarity.

References

http://www.streetleverage.com/2012/02/does-social-networking-impair-sign-language-interpreter/ethics/

http://idealware.org/articles/creating-social-media-policy

The Social Media Handbook By: Nancy Flynn

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