Public Consultation: Standard of Practice for Social Media

January 12, 2023 |
Standard of Practice


CPSM launched a consultation to seek feedback from registrants, stakeholders, and the public regarding the draft Standard of Practice for Social Media.

A working group helped develop a draft Standard of Practice to guide registrants’ social media engagement and to serve as a reminder that professional and ethical conduct expectations for social media are the same as they are for in-person encounters.

The Need for a Standard

Social media is a valuable communication tool that allows for timely interactions with colleagues, patients, and the public. Many physicians use social media to make and maintain connections, network, share knowledge, seek information, engage in medical education, promote their practice, advocate, and build their brand as thought leaders or subject matter experts.

As demonstrated by the pandemic, Social Media played a significant role in distributing public health education and addressing misinformation. According to The Survey of Digital Technology and Internet Use 2021 [1], 69% of Canadians searched for online health information. Maintaining professional conduct and communication to avoid harm to the public, not adversely impact patient care, and preserve the reputation of the profession, have become increasingly significant.

Physicians (CPSM registrants) have a unique position of respect and trust and their online conduct is no exception.

Why Now?

While many CPSM registrants demonstrate good use of social media, its misuse has been at the centre of misinformation and some instances of misconduct.


Upholding the standards of medical professionalism through social media includes complying with various relevant Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics of Professionalism. This Standard provides a clear direction of expectations to prevent the risk of conduct that could be damaging to the public’s trust in a registrant, or the profession as a whole.


Most other Canadian medical regulatory bodies have existing standards and policies on social media in place.

The Standard

The focus of this standard applies to the professional use of social media but can also apply to personal use depending on several factors, i.e. the connection between the physician’s conduct and their professional role.

CPSM recognizes registrants have rights and freedoms under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the freedom of expression, subject to reasonable limits. 

Key Points

The Standard outlines expectations and includes provisions for:  


  • Maintaining professionalism, relationships, and boundaries
  • Respecting patient privacy and confidentiality
  • Communicating or discussing medical information and the risk of developing a physician-patient relationship
  • Advocacy

Consultation Process

The draft Standard of Practice is being distributed to CPSM registrants and stakeholders, including other regulated health professions for feedback and public input. 

How to Submit Your Feedback

The consultation period has ended. 

[1] The Survey of Digital Technology and Internet Use 2021. Data for this survey were collected from November 2021 to March 2022; questions asked respondents to report for the year 2021 exclusively. The sample size was approximately 14,000 Canadian enterprises and the response rate was 73%.