New Media Code of Ethics

Preamble:

This code of ethics is geared towards the general Social Media user. As new media grows in popularity, the need for a code of ethics grows.

New Media refers to content available on-demand through the Internet, accessible on any digital device, usually containing interactive user feedback and creative participation. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, etc. have allowed us the freedom to produce our own content, but with that power comes responsibility.

In this day and age, every individual who takes part in social media is a journalist to some extent. While we have become not only consumers but producers of the information displayed online, we must be aware of the correct way to handle the new found power that we all have in this society. Due to such easy access, this list of ethics will be a helpful guideline for social media users to help prevent any substantial errors.

Accuracy and Truth

  • When retweeting or reblogging a post, make sure to fact check the information to reassure that the information you are sharing with your followers is accurate.
  • Make sure to retain the original context of quotes, videos, pictures in order to stay true to the original tone of the creator.
  • Always give credit where credit is due. Present quotes as quotes, links to original articles and give photo and illustration credit to original creator. If unable to find original source, state as such, or write something along the lines of “none of the images, illustrations belong to me.”
  • Always check your sources credibility, and if none can be found state it clearly.
  • Never plagiarize. You are not allowed to do it at school, so why do it on the internet. Do not repost someone else’s work and claim it as your own, whether it be writing or images.
  • Make an effort to verify the credibility of the sources you share information from. Without doing so, you may be helping disperse information that is untrue. Spreading rumours does not look professional, nor does it help you maintain a good, credible image.
  • Respect others property, including trade marked names and slogans and copyrighted material. It is always best to assume that all content online is protected by copyright.

Accountability

  • As employers and post secondary constitutions make an effort to investigate the social media presence of the individuals they let represent them, never say anything negative about your place of work or school as there may be undesirable consequences.
  • Inappropriate language (depending on the platform being used to communicate) is rarely seen as professional conduct so avoid the temptation. Remember that you are marketing yourself to the world, make sure that you leave the impression you would like others to perceive of you.
  • Consider the legal implications of your actions, regardless of the medium.
  • Tell your audience if you are being sponsored by any organizations.
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest.
  • Always disclose any relation, be it financial, personal or political to your audience so they are aware of any bias.
  • When voicing an opinion, whether that be your own or someone else’s, always make sure that your audience is aware of such.
  • Make sure to address any mistakes and to explain the nature of the error.
  • If a mistake is made, admit and correct it as soon as possible and in a manner that matches the seriousness of the error.
  • Make sure to include content warnings when the subject is graphic, sexual, violent, or could be in any way triggering or offensive.

Fairness

  • Be politically correct. Do not mock the “political correctness” culture. While it might not directly affect you, that does not mean that it doesn’t affect your followers, your peers, or simply another individual who stumbles upon your social media sites. People of Color have to face some degree of discrimination in their daily lives, do not help contribute to this problem. Being politically correct may seem taxing and time consuming but the end result can be a safe space where individuals of all backgrounds feel comfortable expressing themselves.
  • Avoid using stereotypes of any kind whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, social status, disability, physical appearance, or any other stereotype.
  • Avoid referring to an individual’s race, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, gender identification, etc. unless it plays a role in the story.
  • Hate speech is not tolerated. These gestures, conducts, writings, or displays should be forbidden because they evoke violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or intimidates a protected individual or group. Hate speech is typically directed towards minorities and instead of oppressing their opinions and views, they should be celebrated and brought to attention.
  • If you post content that is not yours, while clearly stating so, and the original creator asks for you to take it down, you must obey their wishes.
  • Support the open and civil exchange of opinions and views, whether you agree with their opinion or not, attacking another individual before hearing their thoughts doesn’t reflect well on either yourself or them.

Privacy

  • When dealing with children in any way, shape or form, be aware of the child’s rights to privacy.
  • When posting an image of a child that is not your own, always makes sure to ask for permission from their parent or guardian.
  • Do not share others personal information. While being apart of social media sites, you may feel the need to over-share parts of your life, which is completely your decision, however you should never share information about another person without having their permission beforehand.
  • Never share any passwords or important information through any forum or survey.
  • Always think before you post. You may have deleted it from your account but that does not mean it is deleted from the internet. Information is easily found by professionals, so don’t take the risk. Despite the existence of privacy options, many items published in social media are publicly accessible and it can be difficult to guarantee that sites are fully private. Because of this, always start with the assumption that anything you say can be read by anyone, anywhere, at any time and remember that the Internet has a long memory. Make sure to practice good judgement when posting anything online. Be aware that inappropriate conduct can negatively affect your organization, clients and yourself. Always apply the following test: “Would my boss, customers, parents, or grandparents be happy to see me publish content of this genre?” As there is a possibility of them seeing your posts.