Misrepresentation Online

I’ve been embroiled in a rather frustrating conversation with a person who I originally engaged with on the basis they seemed to be attached to an NHS Trust. I’m afraid I have no copy of the original Tweet, but he responded to one of my regular Tweets offering Social Media Training to NHS Trusts to say that in his meeting with his Trust next week he would ask them to consider hiring me.

Over the course of a series of conversations, I became concerned that this individual was claiming to be a mental health advocate and offering advice to vulnerable people online, but without the transparency expected of health professionals in this space.

Please see this cache from Google on 18/07/12 at 18.32 showing the details of the Twitter profile information (now changed). What concerned me was the perception that advertising oneself as a person “with a background in mental health issues such as the code of practice-the mental health act-and investgater(sic) in complaints from…”

Please contrast this with the current profile information, changed over the past week or so (sorry, I have not been keeping track of when!)

The conversations had over the past few days alarmed me becuse the man I had originally thought of as an NHS professional appeared to be something quite different. I was concerned that he didn’t seem to understand gentle reminders about plagiarism, about attribution of content shared online, or other features of e-professionalism that all professionals should be aware of.

I began to be more suspicious as he constantly evaded my attempts to place him in terms of a role (we health professionals lie to put people in boxes- I put my hands up to that- there could be better ways to assess people!), and I was concerned that he could be offering advice based on a limited understanding of basic concepts in mental health such as Capacity and Detention.

Please see this Storify of our complete conversation: Storify conversation with @MikeGargett

So, I now face the prospect of an HPC hearing to determine fitness to practice. How do I feel about it?

  • I feel that I practiced with an appropriate degree of professionalism, that would be reasonable to expect from an equivalent person of my profession in the situation. I therefore feel that the eventual decision would go in my favour.
  • I’m not relishing the process. I imagine it would be stressful and complicated to go through the process, although a small part of me is excited by the possibilities of exploring the ethics of e-professionalism in this context.
  • I’m aware that at one stage in the conversation, I did express frustration, and Tweeted in CAPS LOCK. This is the internet equivalent of shouting, and it was discourteous of me. It’s important to “fail fast” when one is iterating new forms of practice, and this is another lesson for me. I would _never_ shout at someone I met in practice in real life (even if I were irritated with them), so why did I do it in social media? I shouldn’t have done, and I will now have to apologise.
  • I was accused of name calling and I’m confident that I didn’t resort to personalising the behaviour I was highlighting in the conversation.
  • Other health professionals were involved in the conversation, so I can feel confident that I could call on them as witnesses if needed.
  • I’m grateful for my knowledge of tools such as Storify, because when something like this happens, it’s important to check and check again to see where the conversation turned sour. If I had never SHOUTED, would I now be in this situation? I don’t know, but it is worth remembering. Actions have consequences.
  • I’m exploring this process within the public domain. I made a commitment to myself that I would aim for transparency in what I’m attempting to do, and I take that commitment seriously. This could back-fire, spectacularly, but could also inspire other OTs out there to take the leap into social media- after all, learning from my mistakes means they don’t have to make the mistake themselves!

What do you think?

Additional Info:
Storify of all conversation around these issues: Full conversation on Twitter

Blogs by Stuart Sorensen:



Blogs by Mike Gargett:






I am an Occupational Therapist, who writes about health, particularly mental health. I am interested in social media and Web 2.0, and where these technological advances can support wellness and health.

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9 comments on “Misrepresentation Online
  1. gemmafinn says:

    Claire you have always displayed a high degree of professionalism in all our twitter interactions and I hope that the process isn’t too stressful. Thinking of you.

  2. Castle Daisy says:

    Hi Claire,
    I haven’t tweeted in a long while. However every single contact I had with yourself, and every conversation I was party to, involving yourself, was thoughtful, professional and measured. I really hope this does not stress or upset you too much. Take care

  3. Kat Cormack says:

    Is there some way i can message you privately about this situation please?

  4. ermintrude2 says:

    You have and do always conduct yourself with openness, transparency, honesty and professionalism.

  5. Hi Claire
    Blimey! What a surreal nightmare. And what a terrible diversion of your time, focus and feelings. You exemplify all that is best in social media, OT practice and genrsl human loveliness. Your generosity and consideration for others shine through each tweet and your contribution to multiple ’causes’ is mammoth. So for you to be caught up in this nasty, farcical situation is awful, especially as the whole content of it has been about you altruistically trying to protect vulnerable people.
    Sounds like you’re coping amazingly with all this (am I allowed to swear here?)… er ridiculousness. I don’t know what a HPC is but it should be a High Praise Committee.
    Hope all this goes away v v soon.
    Love Marion.

  6. Being a trailblazer always comes with the risk of getting burnt. You have embraced the potential of social media for the public good and strive to engage professionally through the medium from what I have seen.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the votes of confidence in your online presence by others commenting on this blog. I think that you the fact that you have been brave and open enough to write publicly about this is to your credit and I sincerely hope your regulator will see likewise. Although as you say, it would be really interesting to see where it goes, butno-one wants to be a ‘case-law guinea-pig’.

    In your favour in this situation, is the permanent presence of things in cyberspace even after they may be actively removed, as the Google cache showed.

    I look forward to the #nhssm chat tonight about safeguarding and good luck with this particular one.

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I'm an OT called Claire. I write about health, particularly mental health, and also about Social Media and Web 2.0 technology. I am particularly interested where these two fields overlap.
I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.

TWIM Blog Awards 2012
This Week In Mentalists Blog  Awards 2012

I'm chuffed to bits to have been shortlisted!

Kred top 50 Health Bloggers
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