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My Social Media Policies

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After looking over the social media policies of NPR and the Washington Post for class I decided to take advantage of the topic and look at my own policies.  While I don’t play by a set of hard rules, I do follow some general guidelines.

Don’t put anything anywhere on the internet that you don’t want attributed to you.  My mother always told me “Don’t say anything at all if you can’t say anything nice.”  While posting on the internet isn’t exactly the same, I find it’s generally a good idea to keep your mouth shut if you don’t have anything nice to say.  It’s also a good idea to avoid putting anything on the internet that you don’t want to become public knowledge.  Internet security is really more of a deterrent that pure security these days.  Many websites only keep the login page secure and use extremely light security to protect your account after that.  There’s even a Firefox add-on that can get into supposedly secure online accounts of anyone that’s logged in from a public wi-fi hotspot.  It’s like dead-bolting a screen door, but it’s also a lot easier for them to manage their content.  The idea that your private information will stay private in the online setting is a bit of a fib.

The world of the internet has an impact on the real world.  When I was younger, I felt that the internet world was completely separate from the real world.  I could log-on and chat with virtual people before logging off and engaging with real people.  It never really felt like the people sitting on the other side of the chat room were real.  It was only as I grew up and met some of these online people who I realized that the way I interact with people online has direct implications with them in the real world.  I don’t treat anyone online differently than I would in real life because I’m always dealing with real people, regardless of the method of interaction.  That means that the same ethics I would apply to real world situations are applied to online situations.  Don’t lie, misrepresent, or otherwise mislead anyone; Do be honest and open as much as practically possible.

The mixing of professional and personal matters is a unique aspect of the internet.  I have two Twitter accounts, a few email accounts, a Facebook account, and two Tumblr accounts.  The duplicates were originally there so that I could have a professional account and a person account, but I’ve found this to be too much.  Sure, I plan to keep a private email account so that private conversations don’t get lost in public and work-related emails, but I’m now trying to unify my public and personal social accounts.  Unifying the accounts helps me keep track of them and makes sure that my presence is humanized by my personal interests as well as my public interactions.  It also makes things less confusing for people who want to contact me.  There would be one email, one Twitter, one website to interact with instead of two that got tied together through the data collator known as the Internet.

I don’t think we need separate ethical guidelines for the real world and the Internet.  We just need a singular set that understands these two worlds are the same with different forms of interaction.  Don’t misrepresent yourself and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want put on the front page of the news, period.  That’s all there really is to it.

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Written by Christopher Siler

2011/07/19 at 00:34

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