Social media warning from our Attorney

imageAgents need to exercise caution when participating in social media outlets. There have been a number of cases involving inappropriate posts that resulted in proposed discipline by the Service. Although afforded some protection by the First Amendment, social media posts are still subject to review by the Service to determine if there is a connection with a BPA’s job and, if so, whether such posts evidence a violation of policy. Some common problem areas:

•Posts that evidence a violation of law or policy,
•Posts that show the faces of BPAs or detainees
•Posts that publish Service policies, manuals, directives or other internal documents
•Posts displaying BP uniforms or insignia in a sexual manner, usually on dating sites
•Posts that publicize a previously unknown incident that is embarrassing to the Service
•Posts that express a bias or hatred to identifiable group

BP Management is of the opinion that beyond a handful of agents, such pages cannot be secured because there is no way to know who is being invited and who might be motivated to alert the media or an immigrant rights group. BP Managers also worry that BPAs can be impeached in court proceedings by their own social media postings. While sometimes funny, such postings can also be interpreted as evidencing a bias or worse against the groups encountered in the field. Union members should review the current CBP social media policy and they should act with caution when using social media. The question to ask: “What would happen if I hit the send button and the images and statements are made public?” As an NBPC lawyer, I can tell you that I’ve represented many agents who were put in the embarrassing situations by either a social media post or text message.

Be careful out there.

– Jim Calle

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