Individuals with mental health issues may post information on social networking sites that can provide an insight into their mental health status. It could be argued that doctors (and specifically psychiatrists) should understand the way in which social media is used by their patients to gain a better insight into their illnesses. However, choosing to actively monitor a patient's social media activity raises important questions about the way in which medical students, qualified clinicians and other healthcare professionals obtain information about patients. While this may be framed as a mere form of ‘collateral history-taking’, there are obvious practical and ethical problems with doing so. Here, a case is made against monitoring the social media activity of patients involved with psychiatric services.
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