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Let's face it, I love using Facebook! Now I'm kick-starting my career as freelance conference interpreter and everybody is telling me to be careful with my FB use or to scrap my account altogether.

Honestly, can't I keep it? I'm even willing to change my behaviour. But how? What are the DOs and DON'Ts for interpreters on Facebook?

asked 29 Nov '11, 18:45

Matt's gravatar image


edited 29 Nov '11, 18:46


Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper.

(08 Dec '11, 11:02) Angela

The problem with Facebook - and some other social networks - is that anything you post there essentially belongs to Facebook - and you never know how it will be used in the future, however strict your privacy settings may be.

If you read their terms carefully - which is not easy since they change frequently - you'll see something like "You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it is shared", etc.

But that's not the whole story. You may own it, but you don't control at all how it is used by Facebook internally. And that's what matters.

Since Facebook is provided free to users, it needs to make money in other ways, such as through advertising. They sell ads by mining your data, and your content. They have big server farms crunching data and numbers whose sole purpose is to profile users. Why is a free site like Facebook valued at over 50 billion dollars - last time I checked - when its revenue model is totally unproven? Probably because the valuation models are woefully inadequate, but when the time comes to milk the cow, you can bet that whoever controls Facebook will do whatever they can to monetise profiles to the max. What happens then with your data and content is anyone's guess.

Personally, I've chosen not to use Facebook for that reason.

Contrast that with this site,, that essentially is a combination of what has made social sites like Wikipedia, Digg/Reddit, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, but also Facebook to some extent, successful. All user-generated content here is licensed under Creative Commons, which means you know exactly how the content is used now, and is going to be used in the future, on this site, or on any other site that would choose to copy some or all content: Strictly not commercially, and always with attribution to you as the original author.

Granted, has a narrow, professional focus since it's about interpreting and nothing else and it may not fully satiate your online social craving.

At any rate, I would recommend that as an interpreter you strictly refrain from discussing any professional matter on free social sites whose terms are full of loopholes, irrespective of privacy settings.

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answered 01 Dec '11, 05:59

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

Thanks Vincent for raising this important point. However, I'm struggling to imagine how the worst case scenario here would affect me. I've never posted anything confidential on FB. I mainly use FB to spread the word about things that I like (articles, blogs, videos). I guess we'll never fully understand the risks of using a social network until one of the big ones such as FB is actually sold and evil things start happening.

(07 Dec '11, 03:57) Matt

The first and most important "Don’t" is to never ever post anything related to the meetings you’ve been interpreting (name of the client, content...) as you are bound by confidentiality.

One should make the difference between a professional FB account and a private one. Close your private FB to the public so nobody from the outside will be able to look at your pics and posts. Set it to the highest level of privacy. If your FB account is for private use, try to avoid adding colleagues to it. Some may argue that you could create another FB account for professional use, personally I can’t see the point. If you really can’t avoid adding colleagues, you can create groups in your FB and you’ll choose what they can see and can’t see.

There’s a bit of paranoia around FB but you just need to use your common sense. But if you’re not sure, then don’t use it.

You can read more about the use of social media by interpreters on the AIIC blog

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answered 30 Nov '11, 07:06

Marta%20Piera%20Marin's gravatar image

Marta Piera ...

edited 11 Mar '13, 17:51

Thanks @Marta Piera Marin for your answer. Sounds reasonable. It's what I thought I would do. I'll have a closer look at my privacy settings and sort out the colleagues I have added as FB friends sofar into a group limiting their access to what I post.

(01 Dec '11, 05:05) Matt

I once worked with a colleague that I had never worked with before, naturally I googled. Just to find a lot of posts from a person with the same name, but absolutely nothing that indicated that this person was an interpreter. So I assumed that the person on the Net was not the interpreter and that I would work with somebody who was not very active on the net. It turned out that the person I found on the internet and the interpreter was the same person. Since this was a very public person, she had decided to keep interpreting and translation completely out of her public life as a respect for her clients. When she was working she did not FB, tweet, blog anything for the entire assignment, and there was nothing on her internet profile that revealed she interpreted. Obviously, we talked about it for quite a while and she was not at all against FB, twittering, blogging for interpreters, she had just chosen for herself not to mix her public persona with her interpreting persona. She was clear about one thing though - don't be anonymous. People must be able to relate to you as a person. Personally, I'm working on this one - I started anonymously for many different reasons, but I'm going public in a not too distant future. Stay tuned :-)

And let's face it. Clients, colleagues, employers google you and if you're nowhere to be found that is suspicious too.

So here's how I personally deal with social media for what it's worth:

First, I never tweet, blog or FB from the booth. I try to avoid it completely during work hours. I can catch up over lunch or after work.

Second, I never tweet, blog or FB about a specific job, client or assignment. I blog ABOUT work of course but it can be done in general terms and without mentioning circumstances. I have mentioned names occasionally, but only in retrospect and only for very public events (shown on TV or similar).

I'm on FB - it's my private account, I have both colleagues, friends and family added. I add very restrictively though and I also post restrictively. And privacy settings are of course high. A cousin once said: "Why don't you write anything about family life and why don't you post photos of the family". Well, to me the reason is clear. It may make my FB a bit dull, but I don't have to think about FB owning photos of my children or employers finding out what I did at the party last Saturday.

Just as in the hints document say, I think it's great that we have the possibility to show our profession via social media. But social media should be used with common sense and moderation, just as any other drug really :-)

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answered 04 Apr '12, 02:24

tulkur's gravatar image


Here's some advice from high up, the HINTS network :-)!

Declaration on the use of social media

In our capacity as heads of interpreting services of international and national organisations and institutions, one of our main concerns is that the status of the profession of conference interpreter be maintained at the highest level possible. One of the most important contributing factors to the excellent reputation that our profession generally enjoys is that those who use interpreting services can be confident that interpreters will always work to the highest ethical and professional standards.

In this respect, we would like to draw attention to the use of new social media platforms, such as Blogs, Twitter, Yammer, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr, etc. These platforms offer unprecedented communication opportunities for both individuals and organisations and can be used in a positive sense to raise awareness about the profession and to attract young people to interpretation studies.

However, if not properly used, they can also adversely affect the perception of the profession. Those who engage in social media platforms should be well aware of the risks involved. Sharing negative professional experiences in public, expressing disrespectful views on colleagues, employers, meeting participants or even posting meeting documents, all damage the status of our profession, which is not only based on the quality of the interpreters' work, but also on their discretion and confidentiality.

Therefore, we call upon all concerned and in particular on professional associations, interpreter training institutions, employers and recruiters of interpreters, to include explicit references to the proper use of social media when addressing issues of professional ethics and conduct. In this respect, the generally accepted guiding principles are confidentiality, objectivity, impartiality, loyalty, discretion, respect, circumspection and most importantly, common sense.

Geneva, 7 October 2011

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answered 30 Nov '11, 16:10

msr's gravatar image


edited 03 Apr '12, 17:47

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck


@msr, thanks for sharing this very recent and comprehensive piece of advice. Or should I call it a 'hint'? ;-)

(01 Dec '11, 05:08) Matt

You're very welcome, Matt :-), I was sent this text w/o any mention of embargo and, also in light of its obvious purpose, ie to be widely read and hopefully followed, saw no harm in posting it when this question was asked; I was since kindly told that, despite it having been posted on several internal institutional sites, it wasn't yet "public"... oh well...

(02 Dec '11, 17:18) msr

Here is some further reading that I stumbled upon recently: Does Social Networtking Impair Sign Language Interpreter Ethics?

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answered 10 Feb '12, 03:11

Matt's gravatar image


Hier ein Bericht der Tagesschau mit Tipps eines Anwalts (31.3.2012) zum Thema Urheberrecht und Facebook. Diese Tipps gelten auch für private Facebook-Seiten, die nur mit "Freunden" geteilt werden:

Der Internetanwalt. Richtig posten.

Einige Auszüge:

  • Fotos, die Sie im Internet finden, sollten Sie nur dann benutzen, wenn die Verwendung ausdrücklich erlaubt ist. Im Zweifel heißt es: Finger weg!

  • Auch Musikvideos von Youtube, Ausschnitte aus Filmen, Musiktexte, Buchtexte und so weiter sind geschützt.

  • Der Umstand, dass ich mich widerstandslos oder sogar bereitwillig fotografieren lasse, heißt noch lange nicht, dass ich auch mit der Verbreitung des Fotos via Internet einverstanden bin.

  • Im Grundsatz gilt hier die alte Volksweisheit: Unwissenheit schützt vor Strafe nicht!

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answered 01 Apr '12, 06:03

Angela's gravatar image


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question asked: 29 Nov '11, 18:45

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