Social media has become a huge part of our lives in and out of the workplace. In different situations, social media can be harmful or informative. Social media is used for many things especially for marketing, sharing, networking, and helping with personal issues. As civil engineers, social media should always be used responsibly in the workplace.
As a civil engineer, social media defines you in the workplace either positively or negatively. One needs to be responsible when posting things onto social media. It is also good to note that when the ASCE talks about social media they are also referring to email and printed writing. There are many different examples of when posting something on social media can affect your job. According to J.T Ripton you have to be careful when posting comments about your boss or your latest job offers, “Putting your complaints out there for the world to see is never the way to go, especially when you have something to say about your job or your boss” (Cite). This action is unethical and can hurt you in your job. This act can lead one to be disciplined or even terminated if your boss finds out about your actions. As engineers, you don't want to post anything that you wouldn't want your employer to see, “No matter what the platform, however, the takeaway for workers is clear: Best be vigilant not to post anything you wouldn't mind an employer or potential employer seeing” (Cite). In cases of social media, you don't want to post pictures on social media with alcohol or a tweet that mocks your customers. Your employer does have the right to discipline such an action. If a company let its employees post tasteless comments on their personal social media it could affect the company if their consumers don't agree with the comment or picture. When posting to a business social media account one needs to be more responsible and professional when posting. Today a company's social media could be the “face” of the company because that is where most of their advertising takes place. If consumers become offended by an engineer's postings they might not hire that engineering company to work on their new project.
Civil engineering companies should be posting about new contacts that they have completed or acquired. By doing so this will allow future and potential customers to see the work that this company has contributed to. As an employee of a company you should not be posting pictures of job sites or engineering plans because this could then help the companies competition in one of their projects. The ASCE gives an example of how social media can be harmful in giving information to your company's competition, “An HP executive updated his LinkedIn profile to include his work on an "innovative and highly differentiated approach to cloud computing," he revealed information to his employer's competitors about his employer's forthcoming projects” (ASCE). This could also be applied to a civil engineer; an employee could post drawings and plans for an upcoming structural engineering project that they have just started. Another company is then able to look at the engineering plans and is then able to compete much more closely. ASCE also gives another really good example of helping a customer through the means of social media, “For example, a South African dietician recently faced charges of unprofessional conduct after he advised a mother via Twitter to put her baby on a particular type of diet without having any information about the baby's health or about the baby in general” (ASCE). Similarly, if a civil engineer was to use social media to help someone with a structural engineering problem they can run into some legal problems. The engineer doesn't know everything about the situation and leaving out one detail could end in a huge engineering disaster. It is also appropriate to shared news about failing infrastructure. For example, ACEC National or American Council of Engineering Companies posted on Twitter how America's road infrastructure is not up to standards, “FedEx says United State roads are so bad it's burning through tires twice as fast as it did 20 years ago” (Cite Twitter). The Chief executive for FedEx, Fred Smith, even agrees that America's road infrastructure is horrible, “Because the road infrastructure has so many potholes in it it's tearing up the tires faster than what was the case before” (Cite qz). Even companies are facing major problems because the United States is lacking infrastructure updates. Companies like FedEx are posting their concerns on social media to get the word out that there is a problem. Using social media as a way to get the word out that there is a problem is also widely used. When something is bad companies or consumers post on social media that they want change to a problem. Also, when using social media employees must be careful when posting about fellow engineers and contractors. Engineers should only comment about other fellow engineers in certain situations. For example, if you are trying to promote another fellow engineer in a positive way then you should post on social media. But as an engineer you should never talk poorly about another company or fellow engineer. According to ASCE Code of Ethics Canon 5, “Engineers shall not maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, injure the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of another engineer or indiscriminately criticize another's work" (ASCE). ASCE describes a case where an attorney in Florida talked negatively about one of the Judges by saying he was “mentally ill”. The attorney was also fined hurting his or her career. Negative comments about another company or engineer could hurt your company's image and prevent a company from attaining potential business.
It is a fact that social media has and will continue changing the world. Social media is becoming a very important part of different industries today including civil engineering. Companies are becoming dependent on social media and what it has to offer. A popular and upcoming website called LinkedIn is becoming a crucial source for finding information about employees and connecting the world's professionals. As employees of a company large or small engineers need to be responsible and professional on what they post. Even though most large companies, such as fortune 500 companies, have teams that just focus on social media, companies can still have problems with ethical issues. It is important to always think before sending a message or comment on social media because it can have very large repercussions if people or customers are hurt or offended by it. This will then lead to disciplinary action from your employer or even legal actions which will cost the company a great deal of money. The ASCE code of ethics helps to determine if a social media action is appropriate and professional for posting.
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