Social Media Ethics: A new guide by the Radio, Television, Digital News Association
Things to consider: Image and Reputation
Be careful when registering for social network sites. You must pay attention to how the public may interpret Facebook info and descriptions
Be transparent and accountable: do not post anonymously or use an avatar that cloaks your real identity on newsroom OR personal web sites-you must be responsible for everything you say. If you comment anonymously this will compromise this principle.
Truth and Fairness: Twitter's character limits and immediacy are NOT excuses for inaccuracy and unfairness. Remember that social media has online archives. Make sure to correct and clarify mistakes whether they are factual mistakes OR mistakes of omission.
Privacy: Social networking sites usually offer a privacy setting. Using material made public by someone on their site is different from prying information from a password protected site. A journalist should consider whether accessing "private" content is in line with the RTDNA guidelines of undercover journalism: does the author have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Is this story of great significance/newsworthiness?
1) The Fort Hood Killings : When an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people at Fort Hood information was tweeted, supposedly from inside the post, with factual mistakes. Journalists passed along the tweets and cited the original posters as their sources. Live, breaking news will frequently lead to reporting of rumors. Journalists should source information and correct mistakes as quickly as possible. Be sure to remind the public that the information is fluid AND could be unreliable.
2) A news editor "friends" a neighbor he meets at a block party. A year later the neighbor has decided to run for mayor and the news editor receives a phone call from the incumbent's press secretary suggesting the coverage will now be biased since the editor supports the challenger. Should the editor "unfriend" his neighbor to avoid an appearance of bias? Or, should he "friend" the incumbent as well?