On ephemeral media and journalistic citations

(Speaking of citations, I found this originally on Nerdist. I think.)

One of the curiosities I’ve got as we sheepishly enter the era of visual communication is how multimedia messaging platforms with temporary shelf lives like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Messenger Day and Facebook Direct will stand as sources for citation. For both academics and journalists alike, what are the ethical concerns of quoting a bit of text, screencapping an image or playing back a video that’s since expired and is no longer publicly available via a URL/URI to the world, even though at one point it was?

Similar concerns were first brought up when users deleted tweets — can the media or researchers properly attribute a bit of information that’s voluntarily been removed from third-party public distribution? When I taught a university class in digital strategies for business managers, I stressed how any resource publicly shared on social media was fair game, giving proper citation. But if owner implicit states that they don’t consent to the content being available, does this still apply?

Back to the ephemeral crowd — users don’t necessarily object to having their stuff live on in perpetuity, the systems they use expire it for them, perhaps unwillingly. Is it still cool and inline with journalism ethics — a sketchy practice if ever there was one?

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