April 19, 2024

Social Media Ethics

By Cody Koenig (@koenigcody)

Who determines what is ethical on social media?

Most of the time when I post on social media, I’m my own toughest critic. I make sure my content is meaningful, sensitive and accurate. While I may think I am my toughest critic, it’s actually my audience.

Far to often people post content that is offensive to others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been scrolling through my Facebook feed and thought to myself, “why would someone post that?”

Offensive content differs between people because of our ethics.

Merriam-Webster defines ethics as: “rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad.”

Every individual has their own set of ethics, or moral principles. As we live in the age of technology, there are many more platforms to broadcast our own personal beliefs.

As PR professionals, anything we post can make or break our career. That is why having a code of ethics is so important.

Throughout my time in the School of Journalism and Communication, I’ve had several class discussions on ethics and the importance of having strong ethics in my future career.

I recently ran across National Public Radio’s guidelines for being ethical on social media and found its guidelines to be very concise and insightful.

National Public Radio suggests:

  • Accuracy. Don’t spread inaccurate information – question everything. It’s ok to be skeptical and question a story. It’s our job to find the right information.
  • Honesty. As a PR professional your social media presence is constantly examined. There is no privacy on the web. Make sure the content you are posting is honest and diligent. If you use someone else’s information – be sure to provide credit!
  • Independence. When posting on social media sites, make sure you know the terms of service. Understand how your content can be distributed and used.
  • Impartiality. Refrain from posting your own opinions on sensitive subjects on your social media accounts.
  • Accountability. Always post professionally. When we are online, there is no divided line between our professional lives and our personal lives.
  • Respect. Be considerate of others. Being sensitive when posting content is one of the most important rules to posting content on social media.

Using ethics when posting content to social media is essential because our audience is so vast and as we’ve learned in class: “if it’s online, it’s there forever.”

As a PR professional, what is your take on National Public Radio’s guidelines? Is there anything you would add to this list?

2 thoughts on “Social Media Ethics

  1. Very interesting post! Coming from a PR standpoint I think that NPR hits the nail on the head. I was reading this post on Facebook the other day about a teacher who would give her students bottles or tubes of certain products and ask them to squeeze all of the product out on to the table. When they finished she would then ask them to try and get all of it back in. Realizing that it was an impossible task to do so she made the same comparison with the kinds of words we use towards people. Saying that they were so caught up in making the mess they didn’t think about how that mess could not be put back, just as when we don’t think about the things we say (or say on the internet) can create a mess that we cannot clean up. It is true that in this day and age what we post on the internet is there forever, and because of that we should be cautious to think about the mess that we could create with just one post.

  2. First, thanks for sharing such as powerful and impressive video here, which does really address the issue of social media privacy.
    “Throughout my time in the School of Journalism and Communication, I’ve had several class discussions on ethics and the importance of having strong ethics in my future career..”
    Same You! The first time I saw the logo of SOJC while I was in freshmen year, ETHICS.INNOVATION.ACTION., I didn’t understand what Ethics stands for and what I can learn about Ethics at a journalism school. Throughout almost three year in SOJC, I’ve trained and educated about ethical study as a jschool student, particularly social media ethics at ssm class. I’ve never been such caution to check my contents before posting on social media. Be accurate, be honest, be accountable; once I post something on social media, it will be there forever.

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