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Communicating responsibly on social media has been a contentious issue at best. Examples include primitive neanderthals like Ansar Abbasi and Hamza Ali, who regularly project populist opinion that is neither grounded in fact nor rationale. Unsurprisingly, their vitriol is accepted (more often that not), regardless of the extremity of the message. In direct contrast, an unpopular opinion, usually generated from within the limited socially progressive circles, is criticized or dismissed even when it is formulated mildly. Such is the case of Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy.

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Socialising is perfectly acceptable, but it needs to follow some rules. The problem is social media ethics is a tricky domain. You will find varied definitions from society to society. However, the best way to go about it is to establish consent. For example, in EU, you simply ask the person whether they would like to be connected on Facebook. This did not occur in the case of Mahjabeen Obaid Chinnoy, sister of Oscar Award Winning Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy. And following to a tirade of anguish, in a Facebook event, what some like minded people have termed as “Send Friend Request to Sharmeen Obaid“, Saving Face (Pun Intended), Sharmeen Obaid Chinnoy has recently changed her name on Facebook.

Code of ethics is a must for Doctors and Therapists. Your ignorance in this fact shouldn’t be blamed since you weren’t trained as either.
The blind spot in this scenario is that it’s a professional sending a friend request to their patient by accessing the medical records taken by somebody else. T
he reality is that the doctor’s conduct was both unethical and unprofessional. AKUH may have a code of conduct and the doctor’s violation of that, may have been sufficient ground for dismissal.  The US physicians body considers such behavior unethical and does not recommend it. UK’s body, on the other hand, forbids such behavior making it liable for punishment. There is no such law except PMDC’s recommendations in Pakistan, which aren’t taken seriously anyway.

Physicians should not use their professional position, whether online or in person, to develop personal relationships with patients. The appearance of unprofessionalism may lead patients to question a physician’s competency. Physicians should refrain from portraying any unprofessional depictions of themselves on social media and social networking websites. Guidelines from the Federation of State Medical Boards.

Code of ethics do not allow you as a doctor or Psychologist to pursue your patient without their consent. Patient’s intake is not taken by doctor in emergency. Intake is taken either by medical officer, receptionist, depending on hospital set-up. Also, even if she casually chatted up with Doctor, the doctor, regardless of gender, has no right to try to connect with them. Also, the logic that Doctor was doing it for increasing his personal clientage is bogus. All doctors, dentists and psychologists have their personal visiting cards for this purpose.

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Similar to the recent firing of a racist employee by Google, A private entity is not bound to follow the law in this case. However, if the accusation is harassment by AKUH then the Doctor still has the right to go to court against his termination. If AKUH code of conduct or employment contract does not specify the type of “harassment” that the doctor is being accused of then the doctor may win the case. Another interesting aspect is that the accusation against the doctor by AKUH is probably breach of confidentiality. If that is the case then AKUH will have to prove that the doctor sent the friend request on the basis of personal information available to the doctor only from patient records. Alternatively, the doctor can prove that he easily acquired the information from open sources. That would also create complications for AKUH. To sum it up, the private entity will have to comply with the law if the doctor takes the matter to court. And he may even win. Unfortunately.

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Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s intentions

The intentions seem a little other than portraying a negative image. To put things in perspective, the pandemonium caused by the aggressive nature of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s tweet is understandable, if not disappointing. At the core of the problem is a lady who felt threatened and/or violated in a society that is engineered to suppress women. Her sister’s defense is natural, but what is disturbing is that the outburst has redefined the roles of the people involved in the episode. The doctor has become the victim; the woman standing up for the abused, the abuser. In no uncertain terms, this highlights the casually dismissive attitude of men towards the concept of consent, and also to a lack of understanding of ethical boundaries. Moreover, drawing false equivalencies with university/co-worker level friendship requests has accomplished little other than to devolve into shockingly horrific rebuttals. For instance, Saudia Arabia is allowing women to drive and here we are fighting over a Facebook Friendship request.

“People you may like to Harass”

Some Scenarios in which you found somebody over Facebook when you just barely know them:

  • We meet a person and after a while his/her profile appears in ‘People You May Know’ on Facebook, it’s scary. It doesn’t happen just like that. It is because of location services, like you both meet and  both have switched on location services on your phones. When you’ll meet your GPS location will be same for arround 25 minutes. Facebook will check your mutual connections and suggest you as you may know them.
  • At the same time, if the other person has searched your profile, Facebook starts sharing you the profile of that person. It gets crazier sometimes. You meet a person and FB starts showing their spouse at the people you may know.
  • Also, the moment you save anyone’s phone number in your phone, it takes you to everywhere you can connect with these people.  It happens if you call him/her on number which he/she registered with Facebook.
  • Not only that, if two people are connected to internet and they cross paths, they can appear in each other’s people you may know as well. Scary, isn’t it?
  • If you have exchanged phone numbers and both of you are on WhatsApp, FB can pick from there as well. Whatsapp is owned by FB now. Means from your contact list.

Sending a friends request on Facebook shouldn’t, in normal circumstances be called harrassment. For a doctor to get the patient’s details for no purposes other than searching her on Facebook, is a lot of effort. Imagine the lady seeing that the professional she trusted her very personal details with, is trying to befriend her. I’m sure she freaked out and felt disturbed. However, the term “harassment” has a legal connotation as per Pakistani laws. Similarly, the main legal instrument for harassment in cyberspace is covered by PECA. The designated investigative agency on the subject is FIA. They are not prosecuting the doctor on this, saying that it is not harassment. There may be a reason that the doctor just wanted to add her in his social circle, afterall she was sister of a celebrity. She also might have asked for extra bit of favors sneakishly: I am Chinoy, Mahjabeen Obaid Chinoy. You Get it?

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Can you approach your client

Like AKHU Doctor? Not until you terminate your business relationship. What needs to be understood here is that the act of sacking itself was undertaken by AKUH, not by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. It is true that whether suspension or counseling would have served as potentially better alternatives is debatable, however, the doctor consciously approached the patient outside the designated professional space and violated patient confidentiality. Consequently, re-defining victimization at best is a case of an error in judgment, and hate-speech and anger directed at SOC is a subliminal manifestation of anti-elitist mindset rather than a conscious effort for social justice. Crucifying SOC for being a member of the elitist club is completely irrelevant to the whole problem and is unjustifiably irrational. Was SOC justified in raising the matter publicly in this manner? Since she didn’t name anyone publicly so perhaps her tweet-in-anger is not overstepping in any way.

Lastly, harassment cannot and should not be defined in black and white terms. Men need to refrain from forming judgments on situations they are unable to empathize with. Sure the nature of the tweet could have been toned down. But this is irresponsible reasoning at best, and serves no purpose other than diverting focus from the more serious issues at hand. What we need to remember is that some relationships are authoritative in nature. Say the lady rejected the friend request, and had to visit the doctor again. Would you not agree that the behaviour of the doctor might have changed in this circumstance, and can potentially hinder his ability to cater to her needs professionally?

Related: Nauman Ali Khan is a Sick Headed Pervert or is he?

Send Facebook Friend Request to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Online / Facebook,
Starting on
October 31, 2017
Ending on
October 31, 2017
While Facebook took the lead, people are also crowding up to unfollow Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy from Twitter as a Doctor was sacked on sheer harrasment file by her sister Mahjabeen Obaid Chinoy online. The Agha Khan Hospital's Facebook page has already attracted thousands of 1-star reviews until they had to close the reviews and issue a policy statement. By joining this event you are declaring to the follwing terms: 1. I hereby declare myself a social harasser. 2. I will not regret any friend request I send to a female. 3. I will not pledge guilty, tho I will confess my crimes. 4. Idfc about anything coz she is a hoax.
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