Social Media Ethics SPJ Region 5 Spring Conference 2012 Mike Reilley and Amy Bartner
Ethical Guidelines with Twitter • Consider everything public • Consider everything signed • Consider many accounts to be fake • Unless you know the person or know it’s his or her account • RTs can be endorsements • Storify on AP retweet guidelines • Check with your employer on policies for Tweeting • Internal issues can become external • Are opinions allowed?
Be Careful With Twitter • This fake BBC News account tweeted false information … and look at all of the retweets.
Think Spelling Doesn’t Matter? • ABC 7 Washington D.C.
Verifying News on Twitter • How to verify? • Don’t trust anything you first read on Twitter • Know the sources (sources, not source) • Read the sources bio information • Take pause: click on the link, if there is one. Read the story. • Are other media outlets reporting it. • What attribution is there, if any? (if there is none, wait for some) • Play to your hunches: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Misreporting: Paterno’s Death • Student alternative news site @OnwardState tweeted that Paterno had died on Saturday night, basing it on an email to players • CBS Sports website posted a news story on Paterno’s death, basing it on the OnwardState tweet but not attributing it. • Several media outlets and journalists began tweeting that Paterno died Saturday night.
OnwardState’s Tweet Link went here.
Misreporting: Joe Paterno’s Death • CBSSports.com home page screengrab from Saturday night.
Misreporting: Joe Paterno’s Death • Paterno’s family denied the rumor; son Jay tweeted that dad was alive. • @OnwardState ran a correction on its site and tweeted it quickly. • CBSSports.com added attribution to @OnwardState in its story only after the Paterno family denied rumor. • CBSSports.com managing editor wrote retraction and apology, but it took more than 90 minutes. • Later fired reporter-producer who posted the story without attribution.
Lessons Learned • Fact-check on any story, but especially on sensitive stories such as a death. • Attribute everything and use links! • CBS Sports learned this! • First-hand knowledge/interview never can be replaced by social media. • Take pause before hitting the send button. Do we know it’s true?
More Lessons Learned • Huffington Post got it wrong Saturday night. How it handled the correction.
More Lessons Learned • Poynter: Craig Silverman on how getting it right is more important than getting it first. • Poynter: Jeff Sonderman on Paterno reporting gaffe. • Elana Zak’s Storify on how the events transpired.
Sources • Amy Gahran • Poynter Institute, E-media Tidbits • Maynard Institute • Why Journalists Shouldn’t Snicker About Twitter • MuckRack.com • PBS Newshour • The Poynter Institute • Steve Buttry • “Twitter for Journalists” • Used with permission • http://www.slideshare.net/stevebuttry/twitter-for-journalists-1702381