Thursday, October 1, 2009

Social Media Policies

Do you really need a policy at your library or school regarding social media? Twitter. Facebook. Blogs. LiveJournals. There are all kinds of ways you can get yourself in trouble on the internet, yes. People have been fired over things they've posted, even.

Here is a simple rule: if you have something to say that might not be well received by the parties in question, do not say it online. Just don't. As secret as you think your Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, or LiveJournal is, you don't know for sure that someone can't find something incriminating online. That's just for personal stuff, like saying something snarky about your sister-in-law.

When you work for an organization and can be recognized, do not badmouth that organization. Don't post about it. If you simply must tell a story, give everyone a fake name or don't name names at all.

Be careful what you sign your real name to. Nothing on the internet ever truly goes away; you can write something that can get pulled up years and years later, and things that seem like a good idea when you're seventeen don't really reflect well on you when you're twenty-seven. Anything you post can be used against you. If you're going to use your real name, you had better be very professional.

Some of the suggestions in the article include:
  • Use a disclaimer. Agreed. The opinions expressed do not reflect on BigNameCompany.
  • Don’t share secrets. Agreed again. You do not want to be breaking news.
  • Be yourself. Not really agreed for all situations. You can 'be yourself' in the way your mom told you to be yourself without using your real name. There's always the option to reveal your real name later, but there are no takebacks. You may not want the kind of attention you can get.
  • Respect copyright. Don't pass someone else's stuff off as your own. Not articles, not blog posts, nothing. Always give credit when you can.
  • Respect your colleagues. And your friends. If your best buddy you went drinking with and got trashed with that one time and took pictures of can't friend his dear old Aunt Petunia when she asks, you need to take that stuff down. Or at least take it down if asked.
  • Avoid online fights. Debates? Mostly okay. Fights, definitely not. No matter how angry or annoyed you get, don't get into personal things with your opponent. And don't pick fights with people you don't like; the internet is full of opportunities for deception that might seem tempting but have serious consequences.
  • Post accurate information. Ever played the telephone game? One small bit of misinformation can turn pretty weird. See what happens when you don't get your facts straight. Bloggers get annoyed!
  • Consult the employee manual. Handy anyway. Really, I can't photocopy my rear end? No kidding.
  • Use good judgment. Well, yeah.
  • Provide value. It's not necessary. There are people who are happy talking about what their cat did that day and there are people who are happy to read it. If someone doesn't think what you're saying is valuable, they can choose not to read it. I personally hate Twitter. I choose not to read Twitter posts because I find the majority of people post just to post.
  • Accept responsibility. Seriously, this is an 'all the time' thing. If you mess up, admit to it. Apologize to offended parties. This one really annoys me.
I suppose policies are a good idea. Common sense just isn't common enough. Remember, lots of employers will put your name through a search engine before hiring you. So will people you date! Then again, maybe it's a good thing to know that nice guy you met is into wandering around in a fur suit before you get too attached to him. Or, you know, maybe that's attractive to you. I'm not judging you, as long as you're not hurting anybody.


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