Ethics in Social Media: Digital Dilemmas?


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Twitter scams and blagging your way to Facebook 'friends', what professional users of social media should know about ethics, but probably don't.

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  • One of the key contemporary journalistic dilemmas — how to define or redefine objectivity in the social media age — is being played out live on Twitter. Reporters’ use of the platform to express feelings and opinions on a range of issues has raised red flags about professional conduct and bias.(posetti
  • Newsrooms need to put in place a process for citizen-supplied material, which may be bogus or biased. How shall sources be identified? How much vetting is necessary for different sorts of stories? Should citizen contributors be made aware of the newsroom’s editorial standards? (Ward
  • Ethics in Social Media: Digital Dilemmas?

    1. 1. As "Bill Cosby Dead" became a trending topic, Facebook group owner Gorman was forced to come clean. "My name is Jonathan Gorman and I am the page admin/creator. With the recent slowdown of likes and high amount of attention from news sources. . . I have come to the conclusion that I should tell you all the truth. Bill Cosby is not deceased," he wrote late Tuesday. "I made around 315 THOUSAND people angry." "I love you all for making me laugh at your stupidity for the past day and a half. You're great," Gorman wrote.
    2. 2. AN ETHICO-LEGAL PARADOX Legal principle Criminal law Common law Contracts and commercial law State regulation Business Interest Public Interest Ethical principles Greater good Right-to-know Do no harm • Law and regulation tend to trail innovation and application. • No prior knowledge or scrutiny of apps • Some uses can be problematic • Does the public interest ever justify breaking the law for greater ethical reasons? • The grey areas where law and ethics collide TECHNO-LEGAL TIME-GAP
    3. 3. • Media Freedom & Regulation • Free speech • Commercial Speech • Hate speech • Privacy / Data Privacy • The ethico-legal paradox • Accountability • UGC • Liability • Surveillance • Commercial • Social • Suppression • Counter Surveillance CLOSING THE GAP? BRIDGING THE PARADOX? • Convergence + Speed • Social & Mobile • New applications coming on stream • Massive amounts of new and improved data • A techno-legal time-gap • Legal, regulation , custom and practice • Applications and Arguments • Political economy • Ethico-legal issues & paradox • Privacy • Power & influence • Democracy
    4. 4. IF THEY CAN, THEN SO CAN WE The Sun last week said it was "absurd" to continue the British black out and defended publishing two photos of the naked prince on the grounds that they were freely available across the internet, including on the websites of mainstream media organisations such as CNN. If material is in the public domain and everyone is talking about it, yet we ignore it, we might be seen as missing out on an important element of a news story and failing to inform our users. • Sun Editorial Old rules no longer apply • Harry‟s Privates y v Royal Privacy • Right to know invoked • Becomes a „free speech‟ argument for British tabloids
    5. 5. HARRY NO-PANTS IS FAIR GAME • Public interest defence • Harry compromised his own privacy • We respect the privacy of the respectable royals (Wills & Kate) • Laddish behaviour • Just doing normal stuff (according to friends) There is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed. The photos have potential implications for the Prince‘s image representing Britain around the world. • The Sun‘s editorial defence "Prince Harry. Give him a break. He may be on the public payroll one way or another, but the public loves him, even to enjoy Las Vegas.‖ Rupert Murdoch‘s tweet
    6. 6. A NEW MEME – ABANDON PRIVACY FOR PRIVATES • People prepared to give up privacy to back Harry • A new „Rule Britannia‟ • Tabloid media uses it as an excuse to push the boundary of „taste‟ under cloak of public interest
    7. 7. MILITARISING THE MEME D Squadron, the King‘s Royal Hussars, posing naked with tanks in Helmand, Afghanistan #salute4harry
    8. 8. “WHAT STAYS IN VEGAS?” • A breach of a code of silence • Who breached the code? • Which code takes precedence? • Story now takes precedence for the news media • Gossip as reportage "Las Vegas is about adult freedom," a spokeswoman for the [tourist] board told USA Today. "It's important for friends to know what activities can be shared publicly and what activities are protected by the code."
    9. 9. DETAILS AND NAMES LINKED TO HARRY • Paparazzi • „fake‟ Facebook accounts • „protected‟ Twitter accounts • Fan Pages on Tumblr • Social Surveillance of Harry has been unleashed spike-wells-facebook-account-80664/
    10. 10. A HASTY CORRECTION • Verification – after publication • Authentic - questionable • Voyeurisitc view of a very public private life • Vicarious pleasures / entertainment / values • Race to the bottom? Harry‟s legs changes its mind about a source
    11. 11. NEW TIN, SAME SARDINES? • How public is Facebook? • How do you manage contacts who you know on Facebook? • Can you use false profiles on Facebook to gather information? • Is it OK to discuss ongoing court cases on Facebook? • Courtroom Tweeting • Twit Def and stupid tweets • Personal v Professional social media profiles For the most part, the five main issues that are causing the most problems, are issues that have always been problematic – they have just been transplanted into digital scenarios instead. These five issues are: 1. copyright 2. verification 3. protecting sources 4. gathering information using false pretences 5. contempt of court Is this all there is to it? Claire Wardle Networked Knowledge blog
    12. 12. WHEN IS A BEER AD NOT A BEER AD? • Sponsor responsible for user comments on social media sites • Encouraging comments as a form of advertising and value add for the brand • Facebook‟s commercial rules? • Political economy and ethics / liability When a user ―likes‖ a brand post, or expresses a view in a comment on a brand page, they push the brand out into their peer network attached to their own identity. For VB to claim that User Comments aren‘t advertisements is to suggest that they don‘t create value for the brand. stricter monitoring of Facebook pages by brands was against the ―spirit of social media‖ and ―commercially unviable‖. Advertisers could abandon Facebook as an interactive advertising channel because of the difficulty monitoring conversation on their pages.
    13. 13. SMIRNOFF – ENABLING, NOT ADVERTISING • Do Facebook users understand the dynamics or are they being used as useful idiots? With several thousand images online, each time a fan tags, likes or comments an image, it pushes that image out into the news feeds of their hundreds of friends. These images have a targeted and promotional character. They embed the brand within the mediation of nightlife on Facebook. A precedent (appeal pending) regarding liability for ethical behaviour in social media
    14. 14. WHAT ABOUT RACISM – „OFFENSIVE HUMOUR‟ • Another free-speech argument? • Facebook eventually closed it • US v Australian jurisdiction • Invoking 1st Amendment The Aboriginal Memes Facebook page carried hundreds of images indigenous Australians as drunks and welfare cheats. The Australian Communications and Media Authority is investigating Race Discrimination Commissioner Helen Szoke said it could breach Australian anti-discrimination laws.
    15. 15. WHO IS A JOURNALIST? • Barriers to entry falling • Are bloggers part of the journalism community? • Is there a useful demarcation between professional and amateur • Should the rules be the same or different for professional and amateur reporters? The ‗democratization‘ of media – technology that allows citizens to engage in journalism and publication of many kinds – blurs the identity of journalists and the idea of what constitutes journalism. (Ward)
    16. 16. To what extent existing media ethics is suitable for today‘s and tomorrow‘s news media that is immediate, interactive and ―always on‖ – a journalism of amateurs and professionals? Stephen Ward, Digital Media Ethics
    17. 17. DIGITAL FAULTLINES Unresolved tensions between ‗traditional‘ journalism and the technological capacities of ‗News 2.0‘ Heightening tension between local and global journalism accuracy, pre-publication verification, balance, impartiality, and gate-keeping
    18. 18. Online, it was almost as if the reporters were not just camping outside the dorm, but barging into the rooms and leafing through personal journals. ―You have reporters that will create a Facebook identity just to get students‘ contact information, or who will start an online memorial to get people posting for a story. It‘s just inappropriate,‖ Virginia Tech student journalist Courtney Thomas told The Guardian newspaper. VIRGINIA TECH – APRIL 2007 • False pretences
    19. 19. ANONYMITY ONLINE • Allowing anonymous comments on news sites • Verification of Twitter & other accounts as genuine Traditional journalistic codes of ethics warn that people may use anonymity to take unfair or untrue ―potshots‖ at other people, for self-interested reasons. Journalists should avoid anonymous sources in most cases Online anonymity is easy and provides a cover for uncivil discourse
    20. 20. THE NEED FOR SPEED • Speed over accuracy • No prior restraint • Correction after publication a media that thrives on speed and ―sharing‖ creates the potential for great harm
    21. 21. TWITTER • Should we really be trying for objectivity here? • Is Twitter for professional or personal use? • Should reporters separate the personal and the professional? • What about being „genuine‟ in social media spaces? One of the key contemporary journalistic dilemmas — how to define or redefine objectivity in the social media age — is being played out live on Twitter. Reporters‘ use of the platform to express feelings and opinions on a range of issues has raised red flags about professional conduct and bias. (Juie Posetti difficult-gift-journalism)
    22. 22. THE PERSONAL AND THE POLITICAL WITHIN THE SOCIAL • Can we continue the analog pretence that journalists don‟t have or shouldn‟t have opinions? Is Twitter an ethical and credible source? Should journalists have two Facebook accounts? Do newsrooms need an ethics code for social media? Is it ethical for journalists to ―like‖ political campaigns? Greg Wingert / Working Press
    23. 23. A REVIVAL OF PARTISAN JOURNALISM • A strengthening of the public sphere? • A further entrenching of elite opinion? • The cementing of inbuilt and unconscious bias? Blogging is about speaking one‘s mind. Traditionally reporters have been expected to cover events impartially. Increasingly online (citizen?) journalists see themselves as partisans or activists for causes or political movements, and reject the idea of objective or neutral analysis. (Ward)
    24. 24. THE NEW FRONTIERS The ethical challenge is to redefine what independent journalism in the public interest means for a media where many new types of journalism are appearing and where basic principles are being challenged. (Ward)
    26. 26. NEW WAYS TO INVADE PRIVACY • The right to be forgotten v. the right to do business • Technical solutions like “Do no track” code
    27. 27. BEHOLDEN TO FUNDERS • This has always been an issue • The political economy of journalism • What about trusts and philanthropy • Who pays the piper calls the tune • Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not the same thing How independent are not-for-profit newsrooms if they rely on funding from a limited number of donors? What happens if the newsroom intends to report a negative story about one of its main funders? From whom will these newsrooms take money? How transparent will they be about who gives them money and under what conditions? (Ward)
    28. 28. CITIZEN JOURNALISM AND UGNC • User-generated news-like content • The conditions of citizen journalism • Eye-witness and social media verification Should citizen journalists be required to be balanced and impartial? Should shield laws and other protections / privileges be given to bloggers, citizen journalists and other non-official reporters?