Eye on Ethics: Treating Colleagues with Respect in the Digital Age

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


Defamation can take two forms: libel and slander. Libel occurs when the communication is in written form—for example, in a letter, note, Facebook posting, e-mail message, text message, or tweet about a colleague. Slander occurs when the communication is in oral form—for example, when a social worker makes demeaning and derogatory comments about a colleague. This might occur at an agency staff meeting, during conversation with a supervisor, or informally during a hallway chat.

In the digital age, social workers can be legally liable for defamation of character if they post online comments or send messages electronically about a colleague that have the following three elements: