The Boston Marathon Bombing: What We Can Learn

I was part of the ¼ of people who learned about the Boston Bombing from social media. Until recently (I injured cartilage in my knee) I was a very avid runner. I follow Runner’s World on Facebook and Twitter and received a push notification from their posts about the bombing. I immediately felt a personal connection to this act of terror and became absorbed in its coverage. Throughout the coverage of the Boston Bombing there was much speculation and misinformation spread, the truth was somewhere in-between.images

I found it very interesting that CNN’s incorrect tweet about the arrest of the suspect was shared more than the correct post. I believe people thrive on the drama, especially in an instance such as the Boston Bombing. Spreading dramatizations is more “entertaining” than no new information. In the case of CNN I believe they should have promoted the correct information more. From an ethical standpoint I would love to see our social networks develop some sort of technology to retweet correct information whenever misinformation is put out first. With more and more people using social networks as a news source I believe this could be pivotal in both accuracy and ethics.

While the news only discussed the Boston Bombings for what seemed like months brands began to recognize opportunities for their businesses from all the coverage. I generally support Ford. I like their cars and many of my family members drive their cars. That being said I was not impressed with their “thank you” message after the bombing. In my opinion this was very distasteful. Many brands sponsored the Boston Marathon and I’m sure their logos were on people’s clothing or in some of the images yet we did not see them advertise a “Nike, official sponsor of first responders” ad. It just wasn’t appropriate in my opinion.

Thank-you-BostonOn Facebook I often see people post images of sick people undergoing treatments. Many of the captions on these images will ask people to like for support. I don’t see a problem with these posts. When the Boston Bombings occurred there were a few posts like this floating around on social media. My feelings on this content aren’t changed by the fact that there were victims from the bombing in these images, my issue is that a reporter posted the image. I don’t know the complete back story of this post. If the reporter got permission from the victim then I believe it is okay to share, if they did not receive consent then it is inappropriate.

When tragedies arise the desire for awareness does too. People become very involved in the story and developments. We can learn both journalism and ethical lessons from our past. The Boston Bombings can teach us how to respond properly during the incident and the weeks after.

The Ethical Dilemma: Social Media and News Reporting

I consistently check my privacy setting on social media (probably about once a month). People can learn a lot of information about you from social media. I want to protect myself and am selective about who I want to see my information. I believe this is important because of the situation discussed below…

In news reporting the phrase “no guts, no glory” holds a lot of value, at least in my personal opinion. There is a line in journalism that separates average journalists from devout journalists. Devout journalists are willing to go the extra mile and get information, to give their audience something different from other news outlets and to earn their trust.

I applaud these journalists. They put themselves in dangerous situations. They devote their whole lives to covering stories. Does utilizing social media make their stories better or is social media just a nuance in today’s culture that should be observed and not reported?

To me these seem like easy questions to answer. Of course I would use social media, I see it used in news stories all the time. The difference between these social posts and the one in question is that these posts are on public profiles. This is situation brings up a whole new arena of debate in social media. Mapplinks-Post-1

Seeing as the situation presented in this week’s lecture deals with murder I believe I would handle social media with extreme care. Like many mentioned in the debate I would investigate all possible resources before confronting the suspect on social media. I would see if we had mutual friends and try to attain as much information about this person from our “friends.” “Friending” this person and using their content would be the last thing I would do. It would not make me comfortable and I would let my bosses at my outlet know.

The great thing about social media and today’s culture is that we can learn from other’s “mistakes”. This is acutally a non-fiction incident that occurred back in 2009. The reporter of this story “friended” the suspect on Facebook, got leads, and then asked to interview the subject. The subject was upset and this made the reporter feel as though she used her new Facebook “friend.” She said she regretted using Facebook as a reporting tool.

What do you think? Is this reporter “soft?” Do feelings and ethics matter in reporting or is it all about the facts? What would you have done?

How can social media social media outlets help users control their content? I like that Facebook gives you the option to choose who you want to see published content. I believe they should make this feature more prevalent. I would also love to see them alert users more effectively when privacy setting are changes. For instance, make users look at privacy settings as the homescreen when changes are made and accept the changes before they are able to get to their newsfeed. This would force us to re-evaluate who sees what.

How can professionals learn how to use social media effectively but still respect privacy? I believe the murder story mentioned in this week’s lecture really put things in perspective to me. If someone has a public profile and willing posts content for all to see then by all means use it. If it’s private it remains private.

Terms of Service? What Does that even Mean?

Unfortunately ethical behavior doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Companies are forced to create terms and conditions filled with outlandish “rules” to protect themselves and their users. We’ve all had to scroll to the bottom of a page and check the “yes I agree to the terms and conditions” box before, but have you honestly ever taken the time to read these “rules?”

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

If you take a few moments to read the terms of service for some of the sites you frequent you would be surprised to see many of the rules deal with hate speech and how social media networks cannot be responsible for user content. This concept upset many people, especially on Twitter. How can such an influential network not interfere with posts of this nature? In my opinion this is a hard spot to be in for all parties.

We live in the 21st century where people utilize social networks to practice their freedom of speech. Social media outlets like Twitter cannot limit their users’ “certain unalienable rights” just because it offends someone. However, I do see users justification for such outrage, especially if your creed, color, gender or sexual preference are hot topics of hate speech on these networks. I believe Twitter is doing the right thing.

Did you know about this outrage surrounding Twitter’s terms of service? I know I didn’t until this week’s lecture for my Social Media Ethics course. So how can we make these rules more evident and applicable to all who use these networks?

I believe it is important to look at what type of content resonates with people on these networks. Seeming as Facebook and Twitter were discussed at great length in this week’s lecture these two network’s terms and conditions will be my primary focus.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Let’s start with Facebook. Images are very popular and are the most type of shared content on the network. I would love to see an infographic explaining these rules. Infographics are able to provide people with information in more entertaining ways. For instance, last semester I shared an infographic about how social media and bacon were related. This piece of content has been one of my most shared pieces of content.

With a limit of 140 characters spreading Twitter’s terms of service message is a little more challenging. I believe creating a hashtag like #TwitterRules would be a great way to create and track engagement regarding the conditions of the network. We’ve all seen promoted tweets on our newsfeeds…I would like to see Twitter feature their terms and conditions via promoted tweets every now and then.

With millions (or in Facebook’s case billions) of users worldwide it is impossible to monitor all of the content every user publishes. I believe promoting the terms and conditions associated with these social network could help create more ethical behavior on the outlets.

Are You “Ethical” on Social Media?

imagesSocial 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.”  franco

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.

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