Be the Voice in the Room

Authors: Kristle Saneewong, Gabe Ovetz, Brian Willison, Kenden Blake

Our team was responsible for managing the class conversation on Twitter using the class hashtag #SOJCssm on Monday, February 5. During the three days around class (Pre, Day-Of, and Post), there were 44 tweets using #SOJCssm, with 34 coming on the actual day of class. Our team shared six background articles the day before to prepare our classmates for a conversation around ethics and social media. The sharing from our team incited sharing from other classmates in the morning before class started. During class, we asked questions to our classmates on relevant issues, shared GIFs illustrating class topics, and posted insightful articles related to ethics in social media. After class, the conversation continued with articles and further insights on ethics.

The conversation that took place prior to Monday’s class on ethics in social media consisted of articles tweeted out by the four of us giving our classmates a general background information on ethics as well as some examples of what ethics look like and how they are used by brands. The articles all came from different credible news sources and provided a lot of information that could be helpful in understanding the topic and relatable to potential class discussions the next day. The articles that we posted the night before led to more conversation the morning before class as a couple more articles were shared related to  ethics. Overall, the conversation prior to class included insightful information on the class topic which led to insightful thoughts and ideas by our classmates through retweeting, liking, and commenting on some of the tweets.

Some of the tweets included reactions to the different cases discussed in class. One of the topics of social media ethics that we discussed in class was ghost-blogging—the act of having someone else write for the namesake of another online. This was a case that the class seemed unsure if it was ethical or not. We published a poll on Twitter that showed the differing opinion on the subject:

Some of our peers also added how they would avoid or combat the ethical issue.

Another topic we covered was astroturfing—the practice of masking the message to make it appear as if it was supported by a grassroots campaign. We looked at several cases of brands guilty of this. One in particular was the creation of Louise Delage to advocate for alcoholism. We asked the class whether or not this was unethical or plain clever:

Other cases discussed were of brands capitalizing off the death of a celebrity. Some called it a “shameless plug” and brands should “stay in their lane”

All of these cases began with the question: “what is the worst that could happen?” Kelli brought the class discussion to a close by giving us all the ethical advice to “be the voice in the room” when that question is asked.

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