Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #21
CE Offered: BACB — 
The Ethics of Social Media: Regulations, Research, and Recommendations
Sunday, May 29, 2016
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
Vevey 1 & 2, Swissotel
Area: CSE/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Michael F. Dorsey (Endicott College)
CE Instructor: Elizabeth C. Nulty, M.S.

In the age of the internet, organizations and business rely on a web presence for advertising. Companies post information on their websites including the type of services provided, the credentials of their owner and employees, and their contact information. Behavior analytic organizations are no different than any other business utilizing websites and social media websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs), in an effort to boost referrals. There is no harm in behavior analytic organizations and business in maintaining websites for advertising purposes unless the rights of consumers are violated with regards to confidentiality, disclosures, and a misrepresentation of practice. The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), the American Psychological Association (APA), and HIPPA all have codes of conduct and/or regulations for professional behavior; however, many behavior analytic websites are in violation of these codes. Crucial changes in social media content are required in order for the consumers of behavior analysis to be protected. This symposium reviews the regulation from the BACB, APA, & HIPPA related to confidentiality and social media. A review of behavior analytic websites is discussed with regards to ethical violations based on the BACBs Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysis, followed by recommendations for avoiding future violations on behavior analytic websites.

Keyword(s): ethics, public policy, regulations, social media

A Review of the BACB, APA, and HIPPA Regulations Related to Social Media

SOLANDY FORTE (Endicott College/CCSN)

It is essential for behavior analyst to understand the regulations that guide our profession and ethical practices with regards to social media including organizational and business websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and blogs. Many businesses and organizations use social media as a means to increase advertising for client referrals through the use of testimonials. A major concern with the use of testimonials is the lack of confidentiality related to testimonials. The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), the American Psychological Association (APA), and HIPPA all have codes of conduct and/or regulations for professional behavior. While many of the regulations are comparable, subtle variations across each exist. This presentation compares and contrasts the regulations of BACB, APA, and HIPPA regarding professional behavior and the use of social media, as well as examines our obligation to follow such codes of conduct. A review of confidentiality standards is included, particularly around the use of written and video testimonials on websites.

A Review of Behavior Analysis Websites: A Research Project
ELIZABETH C. NULTY (Endicott College/CCSN)
Abstract: The Behavior Analysis Certification Board’s (BACB) Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysis goes into effect on January 1, 2016. The BACB’s new code includes several regulations that are applicable to social media sites including professional websites for behavior analysis organizations and their corresponding Facebook account, Twitter account, and blogs. The 15 specific BACB compliance codes that may apply to social media accounts are reviewed. This presentation includes an analysis of over 50 behavior analytic websites for organizations from across the country. Each website was reviewed for ethical violations on the 15 compliance codes (i.e., boundaries of competence, integrity and reputation of the profession, patient/therapist relationship or professional boundaries, multiple relationships and conflict of interest exploitative relationships, confidentiality, disclosures, behavior analytic assessment, affirming principles, avoiding false or deceptive statements, intellectual property, statements by others, media presentation, testimonials and advertising, confidentiality and BABC intellectual property, discouraging misrepresentation). The results of this study revealed that over half of the websites reviewed were found to have at least one ethical violation.
Recommendations for Prevention of Ethical Violations on Social Media Sites
KARI ANNE DUNLOP (Endicott College/HMEA )
Abstract: Although behavior analysts are responsible for understanding their ethical obligations from the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), many behavior analyst violate codes of professional conduct. A concern is the rate of ethical violation related to confidentiality and disclosures on the websites of behavior analytic organizations. With an increased use of web based advertising on social media (i.e., websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and blogs), behavior analysts must understand the how do develop social media sites without violating ethical standards. In a review of over 50 behavior analytic websites, over half were found to have at least one ethical violation according to the BACB’s Professional and Ethical Compliance Code for Behavior Analysis. This presentation includes recommendations for those behavior analysts responsible for social media content on websites (i.e., organization and business websites, Facebook and Twitter Accounts, and blogs). Suggestions are also included for the BACB’s consideration: the development of social media guidelines that include specific continuing education on the subject of social media content in an effort to provide better guidance to behavior analytic community.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh