The internet is a fantastic invention and, since the development of social media, it has become even more amazing. Any information that exists can be found on there, and social media also gives us the opportunity to see things happening “live”. However, this has brought some particular challenges with it, not in the least that around ethics. Unfortunately, people accept things that they say online as truths, even if this is not always the case. This is why professionals like Matt Knouff have dedicated their profession to showing individuals and businesses alike how to conduct themselves online. Below are some of the guidelines he has developed for this.
Key Guidelines on Being Ethical on Social Media
The first key guideline focuses around accuracy. This means:
- To always be skeptical and careful before spreading information. Question everything.
- To speak to experts if you are ever not sure about something.
- To not let the online world dominate lives, by making offline follow-ups if appropriate.
- To not assume any images that are online are truthful, or available for anyone to use.
The second guideline is about honesty. It is vital that people are honest online, because people trust what they read on the internet. The recent rise of “fake news” is a perfect example of how honesty seems to have gone out the window, with people not knowing whether “fake news” is actually true, or whether President Donald Trump is truthful in calling items “fake”. Key things to remember include:
- That privacy does not exist on the internet.
- That you must class online sources as being “on the record”.
The third key principle is about independence. This is about recognizing that terms of service must be considered when gathering materials or posting them online. This is particularly true about the terms of service of the social media platform.
The fourth principle is impartiality, which is particularly important to businesses and journalists. This means that impartiality standards apply to all forms of media, including social media.
The fifth principle is about accountability. This means:
- Recognizing that a social media platform is a public venue, where anyone can read or say anything.
- Following political parties or controversial groups can impact a business.
- You must protect yourself when online.
- You must consider whether there are legal implications to what you are doing.
The sixth principle is all about respect, meaning:
- That you must consider the norms and values of the community.
- That you must respect any copyrights that exist.
The seventh principle is around excellence, meaning that social media, when used properly, is a fantastic tool.
The eight principle is about owning up to mistakes.
Put together, these eight principles can be applied to any element of social media life. This is true for professionals and for individual users alike. If there can be a global unspoken agreement that these eight principles are upheld at all times, the internet will once again be the place it was designed to be.