Facebook and social media networking applications use is ubiquitous across all ages and cultures. Facebook has finally begun to appear in the medical-scientific press. Today's medical literature is focused on concerns of professionalism in young health care practitioners vis-à-vis the lay public as they continuously expose themselves through this online social medium. With over 500 million users, Facebook hosts many of our patients, who are also exposed to the Internet and social media. Nobody so far has considered the opposite issue: that of physician invasion of privacy by "looking-up" a patient on Facebook during clinical practice for purposes of history-taking or diagnostic clues in situations where patients are too ill to provide needed information. We need to consider the ethical implications of privacy invasion in the current era of information technology. We need to acquire and maintain a certain level of "social media competency" to better debate the issues around Facebook and how we integrate on-line content with our patients' histories of present illness (HPI) or past medical histories (if at all).
© 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.