Social Media’s “Miranda Rights”…?

As James Franco said, “social media is tricky.” It can be, but at the same time it isn’t. When looking into public figures and how they approach their usage of social media, it definitely differs from the everyday user. They have more followers, more engagement, more publicity and more responsibility. Can a public figure have freedom on social media? Surely, but it comes down to what “image” the public figure is trying to create or maintain.

One thing I think is for certain, whatever comes out from a public figure’s “mouth” on social media carries the same weight as if were said on any other medium. Each public figure has a certain “image” he or she has established with the public. People expect certain things from these figures based on who they are. For instance, Bill Gates twitter handle isn’t going to post spring break photos, but Snoop Dogg’s surely would. Each figure can chose whether or not to keep their image in tact on social media.

I think those who step outside of the “norms” that the public expects from them are those that come under the most scrutiny. Now that isn’t said for all of them, I was not shocked at all by Kanye’s rant towards Kimmel. I can’t really blame him there because he was actually representing the image of himself that much of the public is used to. Nevertheless, his choice words could have come in better context, but he said it and has to live with that.

James Franco’s use of social media to seduce a teen woman is definitely out of character though from the eyes of the public. Those types of moments are the ones that can actually damage a figure’s reputation. Never before have public figure’s been able to let their voice be heard so easily. Given the ease that social media provides, means public figures have to consistently monitor themselves. A “regular” individual can have a slip up that doesn’t break national news, but a public figure cannot.

The best way I would manage someone’s usage of social media to speak freely is to simply make sure they are aware that whatever is posted is concrete, there is no erasing it. Each comment can affect that status, character and reputation of the individual. Everything said can be used against them. Therefore the best way to navigate social media is to “think more and post less.” Acknowledge that social media is a massive public forum that allows individuals to speak freely, yet the words that are said can and will be used against you—Social Media’s “Miranda Rights,” anyone?



Boston Bombings: Ethical Approaches

Social media managers have to constantly make ethical decisions on what to post, how to post it and how will it effect the public. Content on crises and tragedies are usually those in which what is published has to be in the best taste possible. This is especially important when visuals come into play. Social media is a branch of journalism; therefore you are required as a professional to present the news to the public as it happens.

In the Boston Bombings, we were presented with numerous amounts of information and pictures of the tragedy, so much so that news networks worldwide were showing the video of the actual bomb. The victims of this tragedy are merely innocent in the conflict, which brings up the notion of whether or not their faces/names should be published. News media are there to get reactions, people want to know what occurred, and the best way for these networks to show that is to present all information, photos and videos of the event.

This brings up the ethical side of the argument in which whether or not the posting of a bloody victim should be shown. I like to say that these types of situations should be done only at the consent of the victim. Personally, if I had been in the horrific situation the victim was in, I’d be adamant that my picture not be publicized. I feel when you get down to these tough situations; a good journalist should get approval. It’s not right to paint this victim as anything that he or she wouldn’t be comfortable with.

At the same time, you have to realize that some followers of your network will not want to see these images. The key behind this is to present a warning—graphic content disclaimer—to ensure that you properly notified your audience of what they might see. I think networks have done a great job of this, but sometimes they focus more onto making an “impact” with their audience, over being ethically correct.


The Boston Bombings was the most engagement I had seen on social media, even more than the Superbowl. I think this is one of the rare situations where social media managers have to keep in mind that even though they are solely responsible for presenting the news as it happens, they have to make sure to not offend or scare any of their audience. My solution to any sort of graphic photos is to make sure you warn your audience. It protects the brand and assures that anyone who has a negative effect towards the posting can’t say they weren’t warned about it. I have nothing against these images coming out, under 2 conditions:

  • The victim or person in the picture gives consent for it to be published.
  • Audiences should be warned if they are seeing graphic situations.

Tragedy Visuals on Social Media

When questioning the ethical uses of social media, there is rarely anything less delicate to post about than tragedy. Postings about these events should tread lightly with what there content entails. It Massachusetts Holds Moment Of Silence On One Week Anniversary Of Boston Bombingsbrings into question how you should go about engaging your audience in these times. One recent event was the Boston Bombings that had an overwhelming amount of social media content. I even remember the event basically swept the Twitter “Trend” board and mostly every post I saw during the event was related to this incident.

A fine line gets drawn when it comes to being the “first” to report a news story. In our “need to instantly know” society, we constantly seek information about events and we want all the details immediately. The problem that arises with these networks (especially major news networks) is when they try to be the first to report the details. They are taking the risk of reporting “inaccurate” news to the public, who can then easily re-share any of the information that was posted.


CNN made this mistake when they mentioned that arrests were being made in the Boston Bombings, then later on said there have been no arrests made. Major events like these are ones in which accuracy is basically everything If you are wrong or misinform the public, you lower your overall credibility and reputation.

In moving forward with actual “graphic” visuals of events, they should be thoroughly thought out before publications. When a broadcaster posted a picture of a victim in a hospital bed and captioned the picture with “’Like’” to wish him a speedy recovery is profoundly unethical. Reason being is that you are using a victim against his will. The boy is innocent in this event; he is merely a victim of a heinous crime. Brining something like this on top of the boy is inappropriate, especially by a broadcaster. The only way this ends up being ethical is if the boy provided consent or the family did it, in my opinion.

When using graphic photos on social media, it is important to incorporate a “warning” with the content. People shouldn’t have to see these graphic photos if they don’t want to. The hard part about this is these photos are sometimes seen prior to seeing the warning, or no warning is given at all. It’s easy to offend an audience when you post these types of controversial images, because not everyone feels they are appropriate. There really isn’t a right or wrong stance on this, considering journalists are encouraged to report the news as it happened.


The best way to go about it is to make sure people are aware of what they are seeing, prior to seeing it. It is not worth the risk of backlash because you fail to warn your audience that they are about to see something highly graphic. It’s important to always keep the audience in mind when you post, because something that isn’t “that bad” to you, could really be detrimental to others.

The Workplace and Social Media

Social media in the workplace…I don’t really feel workers using social media during their work hours are bad, as long as it isn’t overdone—and in some scenarios, it can actually be a positive! I facebookworkprobably check Facebook 5 times a day, but when I do at work when the situation doesn’t “really” call for it, I’ll simply browse for under a minute. I think checking Facebook or other social outlets is the equivalent of making a personal phone call, texting or basically doing anything throughout the day that isn’t related to the job. I don’t see an issue with using social media while on the job as long as it’s kept in good context and relatively short.

Best Buy© has taken an interesting stance as far as their social media guidelines. Taking the fact of whether or not to say where you work in your blog, I say there’s no harm in that. I do agree with Best Buy assuring employees act responsibly and ethically, but at the same time they shouldn’t misrepresent who they are. I like this because this prevents falsehood online. Trying to assert oneself as a “higher power” online is just cheesy and outdated—it’s fake!


Walmart’s© guidelines bring up some good issues about ensuring staff actually read the social media policy. It’s actually quite respectable in the face they want to ensure nothing is done that can come back to hurt the brand. Looking into it a little more about the importance of having employees know online ethics, it makes sense. It’s hard to “force” employees to act a certain way on their personal social media profiles, yet that is what these big brands want. The way you act on social media is now a direct interpretation and judgment of how you will act in the workplace.

Oracle© takes a much too aggressive stance with their social media guidelines. Stating that social media activities must not interfere with work activities. Like I said before, if taking a personal call or texting is considered not working efficiently, then social media shouldn’t be banned. As long as these situations arise that aren’t part of the job, it’s not ethical to chose that one is allowed. If anything, Oracle should use the fact they have avid social media users and try to get them on board with the brand message.

I feel social media at work can bring about opportunities, especially if someone is finding something about the brand or a way to enhance its online presence. If I was a boss and knew my employees were on social media…I’d use that to my advantage. I’d have them check out the brand, make sure everything is running smoothly with our online outlets, perhaps send a tweet or two, maybe a Facebook post. I think combining social media for personal and professional use can actually be a good thing for a brand.


My Privacy, My Concern!

Privacy is and will always be a controversial issue when it comes to social media. As a society, we are adapting to a more technological world and it becomes more difficult everyday to protect privacy. I am one who checks my privacy settings on my social media accounts about once a month. It’s always a struggle in making the determination of how “private” I want my profile to be. After all, it’s called “social” media for a reason.


To this day, I still don’t entirely comprehend “every” privacy setting on social networks. I basically guess and check whatever privacy settings I opt in to. I would much rather see privacy settings laid out in an “easy read” fashion. Honestly, I don’t feel like social networks really want to you to be private. When people are private, it makes it harder all around to access the information you need. Just as Norm Lewis brought up in his speech, it’s hard to get information on those who are private.

Social media does blur lines between what’s acceptable in an interview. If you are going to take someone’s information, they should be notified. This can directly relate back to data mining in that we are not “always” told how our information is going to be used—and I feel that is the problem.

If I was going to approach a sensitive interview, I would tread lightly. My opening message would be to sympathize and then to see if they would be willing to speak about the situation. I would promise that I wouldn’t as any sensitive questions and I would let the interviewee control which way the interview goes. I know this isn’t normal journalistic practice, but it changes ethically for me when a death is involved.

In questioning whether or not it is ethical to distribute material from a private social media page, I have mixed feelings. I see no issue with gathering basic information such as age, location, sex, etc. But when pictures and personal content are used, I feel it should come with an agreement. I understand that social content is public content, but when someone goes to lengths of protecting their privacy on these sites, it should be respected.


For instance, taking Norm Lewis’ example of the sensitive interviewee, if a journalist was to take one of her pictures at a bar and use that in the publication, it immediately makes the user think that she is an avid drinker and partier. If the journalist chose to use a picture of her in a dress at a family picnic, then it sheds a different light. When this private information is taken, the woman no longer has a say in what way her content will be used by the publication. That is the major problem I see in this scenario.

The Dirt Behind Data Mining

Data mining has become one of the most important data analysis tools for many businesses. Data mining gives massive amounts of insights about individuals to which brands then target. Given the amount of data that this brings in, it has come under some scrutiny. People are skeptical about their personal information being targeted by data mining because they are “inadvertently” allowing these brands to take their information.

When I look at data mining, I see it from both sides. It’s a great method to advertise and target the public, but at the same time you are providing personal information to “unknown” sources. The information that is collected ranges from in-depth to general, but it’s all part of the process. Even if you are nameless, you can still be identified. This makes data mining such a powerful and unique tool.


Regardless of the benefits of data mining, people aren’t entirely willing to give their “trust” in people. I think that some will accept that there are those companies who use this information positively and necessary, but there are also those who use it for the wrong thing. This is a fine line that still needs some restructuring if data mining is going to win over the general public.

The question is, have you lost your privacy? Have I lost my privacy? The answer I give is that is debatable. I feel it becomes harder and harder every day to protect anything you do online, but when do I start “accepting” it? The answer is now! There is little to nothing you can do to avoid it, so I feel you might as well look at it for the good things it does.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not still concerned about various aspects: privacy, trust, what is my information being used for, how much do they know, etc. My primary concern is trust. I like to dataknow what information someone has on me and how they are using it. This makes it tough because this information isn’t easily findable (if at all). On the plus side, there are guidelines that are set up for data mining. The one guideline that I feel is lacking is that people aren’t being made aware of how their information is being used.

You can’t justify a clear public interest, because it’s never decisive. Not everyone feels the same way about anything, and something of the magnitude of data mining comes in, there will always be a split. Nevertheless, if there was a guideline that gave people insight into exactly how their personal information is being used, then maybe they would begin to trust data mining just a little bit more….or not?

Accuracy, Validity and Everything In-between!

Accuracy was, is and always will play a huge role in social media. We are living in a day in age where everyone can be a journalist or reporter in his or her own way. No longer are we seeing news solely Accuracycome from big networks, but from individuals. Majority of people have a camera at their fingertips, and with a click, can have the latest breaking story. The troublesome part that is associated with these new phenomena is accuracy.

When you see news online, many people (including myself) still look to validate the news with a reputable news network. The reason being is that they are using their name and putting their reputation on the line with every piece of news they release. If news is released from an individual who is in no way a journalist or working for a media outlet, they stand to lose very little. This poses a major problem, especially on social media where people can “share” these types of stories almost instantaneously.

This has brought about a new rise in “fact-checking,” because as much as we love news, we hate falsehood. Luckily, we are given a few tools that we can use to validate these potentially faux stories.

Twitter brings about a novel way of determining the validity of accounts with their “blue verified badge.” This tells the users that Twitter has put their reputation on the line with giving the account this badge. These accounts are usually the ones who have made a name in their given field and people look to them as a reputable and accurate source of information.


Reverse image searching can also assist in verifying where, when and why an image was posted. Sites like TinEye allow you to upload an image that will then be searched by the database to find out any other locations and information on the image. This can assist greatly so you can see if the image you are viewings is in fact “real” or “accurate.”


Accuracy will always remain a part of social media (at least in the near future), because the majority of social platforms don’t “prohibit” or “claim responsibility,” for inaccurate information. I feel it is up to the consumers of these networks to be on the lookout, check and verify certain stories before we spread them on. As with the Internet, you can’t believe everything you see…but we can control what we do as individuals to keep these platforms integral.