code of ethics for social media users

This code of ethics refers to social media users across the internet, specifically those that use their social media accounts to spread information and/or share posts. This can mean information about current events, areas of interest, or just information in general. This code of ethics ideally is applied to any and all social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogging sites and the like. This code of ethics is meant to be a suggestion in hopes of creating a safer and clearer social media space on the internet.

Accuracy:

  • One should always check the source of the post to determine if it is reliable information.
  • One should try to always share only facts.
    -If the post is more opinion than fact, one should make sure that is clear. This applies to parodies and satires of events and information.
  • One should check multiple sources for the same story to make sure the account is accurate as possible.
  • One should never share a post if one is uncertain of the source.
  • One should conduct some independent research on the subject before sharing a post to make sure one is not sharing false information.
  • If a post contains evidence (audio, photographs, etc) that is not live or is reenacted/created in any way, one should make this clear to the audience.
  • If one ever does post inaccurate information, one should rectify it by publicly acknowledging this fact.
    -It is ideal if one could publish another post that does contain the correct information.
  • One should not spread posts that are based on opinion yet is intended to cause harm, such as fear-mongering or false advertising.
  • One should report posts that one can affirm is spreading false information.
  • One should update previous posts with new and accurate information if one comes across it.

Privacy:

  • One should never share a post that is clearly infringing on another’s privacy. This includes photographs, videos, audio clips, etc.
    -The only exceptions are when these private sources are the only proof for cases that might endanger people other than the subject (ie, political cases, abuse/assault, huge scams, etc).
  • One should respect the subject’s wishes to remain anonymous, in the case of victims of tragedies and/or crime.
  • If the post is on public internet forums, such as a tweet, facebook status, blog posts, etc, one should be able to assume it is available to be shared as it is published on the internet.
    -However, one should never manipulate or alter the post in any way to serve an ulterior purpose.
  • If the subject of the post asks for one to remove the post because of privacy issues, one should do so immediately.
    -The only exception is when the post is informative in cases that could endanger a large amount of people.
  • One should never purposefully dig up information on another with the intention to cause harm to reputation and/or name.

Respect of Rights:

  • One should refrain from sharing a post that is clearly discriminatory to any group or persons (ie, race, gender, sexuality, religion, social status, etc).
  • One should refrain from sharing a post that is blatantly biased against a person or group if it does not relate to the facts of the story.
  • One should refrain from sharing a post that is actively exploiting a person, whether it be their age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, or other.
  • One should share a post only if it treats its subjects equally, fairly, and with respect.
  • One should remember that the audience on one’s newsfeed might hold differing opinions and/or is sensitive to the content one chooses to share.
  • One should try to remain objective in choosing the posts they share. 
    -This means one should not be spreading only one-sided information. One should always be taking in all sides of a case, whether they agree with the information or not.
  • If one is publishing/sharing a post that reflects one’s opinions on a specific matter, one should state so.
  • One should never share a post, repost, or claim it as one’s own work if one did not produce it.
    -If ever this occurs and the original poster asks for one to take it down, one should comply immediately and issue a public apology.
    -One should always ask for the original poster’s opinion if one wishes to repost it to an external site.
    -If one sees another reposting information and claiming it as their own, one should report it immediately.
  • One should not force upon others the information one chooses to post.
  • One should always ask for consent before providing information about a person in a post, especially if that person is a minor.

Transparency/Ethics:

  • One should never share a post for their own profit (ie, ad revenue per page count, clickbait, etc).
  • One should refrain from sharing a post because of private gain.
    -One should be clear if one is sharing a post because of one’s endorsement or if one is being sponsored by a company to do so.
  • One should never share a post because one is pressured to do so, whether by another, a company, or “chain-mail.”
  • One should always be clear as to where the source of one’s information comes from.
  • One should never manipulate the context of the original post for one’s own purposes. One should only spread the post with intention of sharing information.
  • One should never resort to dishonest means in order to obtain information.
    -This includes blackmail, spam, invasion of privacy, digging around the internet, etc.
  • One should give warning of any graphic images, mature subject matter, or sensitive topics embedded within the post.
  • If one has ever offended another with the posts one shared, one should issue a public apology.
    -One might also be inclined to remove offensive post, but leave the apology to acknowledge this fact.
  • One should only share posts that are appropriate for the platform one chooses to share it on. 
    -This means one should be aware of one’s audience on any particular social media platform at all times.
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