Social media and ethics have always been something I have struggled with. I earned my undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism where I was taught that integrity and fact checking were essentials in the field. In today’s world these notions have been dismissed. With so many people using social media as news sources news outlets are racing to post stories first, often times at the expense of accuracy. I am excited to see how this course addresses these issues.
The “steps to ethical decisions” really struck me as I watched this week’s lecture. I believe this is a fair theory. I think everyone should ask themselves these questions before they post anything online, whether professional or personal.
The fact of the matter is what we post on social media is forever. Someone will always see it and have record of it. For instance, James Franco’s attempt to “hook up” with an underage girl on Instagram. I don’t even follow James Franco on Instagram yet mainstream media has dissected this story from every angel, even after he removed the post from his account. Franco could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he would have asked himself what his motivations were, what the effects would be, and where his duty lies the strongest. Franco says he’s learned his lesson “But what I’ve learned…you don’t know who’s on the other end… So I used bad judgment. I learned my lesson.”
That’s the key with social media. You don’t know who is on the other end. Keep that in mind with every post. My mantra: if my grandmother wouldn’t approve of it shouldn’t be on the Internet!
Onto the question posed regarding connecting with a friend of a murder victim’s on social media…
Last semester in my Research Methods in Digital Communication course Dr. Andrew Selepak discussed an instance where he researched the KKK. He reiterated the importance of disclosing who you are and what your purpose is when working with people. If a reporter wants to connect with the friend of a murder victim I believe they should use similar practices and disclose who they are and why they want to connect with them. This way the ball is in the other person’s court, they can choose if they want to be subjected to the press.