Facebook connects your clients, even if you don’t use Facebook

Woman using mobile app / Burst via Creative Commons Zero licenseIn testimony to Congress the week before last, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a point of emphasizing that if you’re a Facebook user, you own your information. This is meant to reassure users, but it is more than a little misleading. “Your information” is what you personally have uploaded to Facebook. You do not own what other people have uploaded about you. That’s what has privacy advocates so concerned. It’s also why even therapists who don’t use Facebook should be worried about the client confidentiality risks that the company poses.

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Getting (and giving) better answers to legal questions on Facebook

Matthew Henry / Burst / Licensed under Creative Commons ZeroFacebook is a great resource for gathering information. Often, and for the right reasons, we turn to social media in hopes of gathering information we need in a short period of time and with little effort. But for therapists going to social media with legal questions, that convenience may not be worth it. Many of the answers therapists give peers for legal questions on Facebook are incorrect.

We reviewed 20 recent posts that included legal questions in therapist groups on Facebook. We looked strictly at legal questions where there was a clear correct answer that we could easily reference. So anything requiring interpretation of law was purposefully left out. Our review was by no means comprehensive — it falls more closely in bar-napkin-math territory. But we still think this quick review offers some valuable information.

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How Facebook knows you’re a therapist – and who your clients are

Matthew Henry / Burst / Licensed under Creative Commons ZeroTherapists and counselors have been expressing concern for some time now that Facebook can “out” their clients to other clients, even when the therapist or counselor has not done anything to facilitate the connection. It can happen even when the therapist or counselor doesn’t use Facebook. Thanks to some good reporting by Gizmodo Media, we now have a better understanding of how that happens. We also now know just how little you can do to stop it.

The whole article “How Facebook figures out everyone you’ve ever met” is really worth your time. Here, I’ll just share some of the pieces most relevant to counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals. For us, if even just a few of your clients use Facebook, the likelihood of keeping all your therapeutic relationships truly confidential is near zero.

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The Talking Therapy podcast is back! And we’re now a proud sponsor.

Headphones - Anna Langova / Publicdomainpictures.netA while back we wrote about three great therapy podcasts, and the Talking Therapy podcast was on our list. Hosts RJ Thomas and John Webber are therapists themselves. They offer a relaxed, conversational tone even when dealing with big names in the field like Susan Johnson. They approach the show as true students of the craft of therapy, making for some fascinating discussions even with lesser-known guests.

Read moreThe Talking Therapy podcast is back! And we’re now a proud sponsor.