The Society for Reproductive Biology (SRB) is committed to leveraging Social Media to provide consumers, researchers, health care professionals and the community with a specific interest in reproductive biology and associated sciences with interactive venues for discussion, information and education regarding all aspects of reproductive biology/medicine.

Definition of Social Media

The term “Social Media” encompasses a wide variety of online resources for sharing content among users and shall be defined to include text-, video- or picture-sharing sites, forums, blogs, discussion groups and accounts on various social networking sites and social media platforms, including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Doximity, and Tumblr.

Basis of Social Media Policy

SRB supports use of Social Media to achieve the following goals:

• To foster collegiality and collaboration amongst reproductive biology researchers – both nationally and internationally.

• To disseminate reproductive discoveries to researchers, clinicians, governmental officials and the community in a rapid manner.

• To increase and encourage scholarly discussion among medical practitioners with an interest in reproductive biology and associated sciences.

• To facilitate collaboration with other research fields and disciplines.

• To improve the communities understanding of the research and literature regarding reproductive biology.

Although the use of Social Media offers significant benefits, it also raises a number of concerns. Thus, the following policies shall govern participation in SRB Social Media:

• Treat all online communication as public. With paywalls and privacy settings, it is easy to believe that the information one posts will only be viewed by intended recipients. That, however, is not always the case. Inasmuch as one of the main tenets of social media is sharing, friends and followers may share posts and information at will. Moreover, even websites with the best privacy restrictions can be subjected to hackers and unintentional sharing with advertisers or other third parties. Thus, it is important to treat all Social Media as if it is a public communication.

• Respect intellectual property rights at all times. Social media is a place for sharing, but intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark, still apply. Among other things, scholarly material must be appropriately referenced when used. Users of SRB Social Media may not post or distribute files, articles or other information subject to trademark, copyright, or other proprietary rights, except with the express consent of the owner of the rights.

• Remember that clinicians/physicians retain their identity as medical professionals on Social Media. A physician retains his or her identity as a medical professional regardless of the social media site to which he or she elects to post information. Thus, anything posted, including articles shared online, products liked or followed on a social media site, or answers to simple questions, can be perceived as medical advice or an endorsement. When sharing online, it is important to provide context about what is posted and why. This is also true when reposting or retweeting something that someone else has shared.

• Consider the effect of posts on clinician/physician-patient relationships. On some social media sites, patients may be among the physician’s fans, followers or friends, and they may ask questions. Even answers to simple questions from patients and non-patients can be viewed as medical advice. If one is not sure whether a public post could be construed as medical advice, refrain from posting it. Because physician-patient relationships may be created online, physicians who feel compelled to post an opinion or comment should include a disclaimer to the effect that the post: (i) is offered for informational purposes only; (ii) is not medical advice or a practice guideline; and (iii) does not establish a physician-patient relationship. Be mindful of the line between providing information and engaging in advertising or professional solicitation, both of which are regulated activities.

• Follow the rules. Most social media sites have their own rules, which are often referred to as “Terms and Conditions” or “Community Guidelines.” It is important to be familiar with and follow those rules. What is allowed on one social media site may not be permitted on another, even if the sites are similar. Users should familiarize themselves with any social media policies adopted by their associations and institutions, with which they are required to comply.

• Do not exceed authority. Except as expressly granted authority on some other basis, no user of SRB Social Media has authority to speak on behalf of SRB or to make any statement that implies, directly or indirectly, that the user’s opinions are those of SRB. In addition, any and all actual, potential or apparent conflicts of interest should be disclosed as they arise.

• Be transparent. Anonymous postings are neither necessary for purposes of SRB Social Media nor consistent with the professional level of dialogue expected. Therefore, physicians and other users should include their names with any and all posts and should not falsely portray themselves as anyone else. All messages should be signed off with the user’s initials (e.g. @drkellywalton) across all platforms.

• Exercise common sense. All users should exercise both common sense and courtesy in the messages they transmit on SRB Social Media and may not use SRB Social Media to transmit defamatory, obscene, and otherwise offensive communications, including, without limitation, any discriminatory statements regarding gender, race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. SRB Social Media is not to be used for posting commercial messages advertising or selling goods or services or for any illegal purpose.

• Recognise that deleting a post from Social Media does not necessarily erase it, even if it is no longer visible on the screen. This is especially true as many people use third-party applications or view Social Media on mobile devices that may only capture a site at one point in time. Users should assume that everything posted exists in perpetuity. That said, if one accidentally posts something, the post should be taken down and, if appropriate, the mistake should be acknowledged.

The views expressed on Social Media are those of the individual users. They do not and should not be construed as representing the views of SRB. SRB makes no warranty, guarantee, or representation as to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information posted on SRB Social Media, whether posted by SRB or any third party, and SRB assumes no responsibility or liability regarding the use or misuse of such information for any purpose. SRB disclaims any responsibility to maintain copies of any information posted on SRB Social Media or to assure that such information is deleted. Unless specifically stated otherwise, SRB does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service or organization presented or mentioned on SRB Social Media, and information from SRB Social Media should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement.

Drafted by Dr Hannah Brown, Dr Mark Green and Dr Kelly Walton June 2019, based on the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Social Media Policy.