These messages aren’t just aimed at protecting you, they are designed to help you protect other people.
Perhaps protect is the wrong word.
But, at the very least, these messages are in place to remind you that your actions can have a direct impact on the livelihood of others.
Now, I’m not going to suggest irresponsible social media behaviour can lead to some of the consequences of alcohol misuse or driving dangerously, but I’m not sure if people who participate in social media consider the implications of their actions on others.
Guess what? They really need to.
Access or Excess
We are lucky to live in an era where anyone can participate and be part of the information gathering and sharing eco-system that is social media.
You don’t need to be a trained journalist to have a blog. You don’t need a writing degree. You don’t need to know how to operate a complicated video camera.
You just set yourself up on some free platforms and get to it.
But I have lost count of the number of times this year where I have seen people publish questionable information.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as a publishing a misrepresented tweet from a live event.
Or, it could be an innocent assumption made in a blog post based on a google search of available information.
The point I am trying to make is that if you want to take part in social media and enjoy its benefits, you have a duty to act responsibly too.
Your ‘innocent’ claim, if believable enough, can create major reputational challenges for people connected to what you’ve said.
Brands are often the biggest victims of this behaviour.
But it is a real person who has to deal with the claims you are making, not a robot who will spit out an automated response.
How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot?
What can you do?
For starters, get familiar with the ethics of social media participation.
CyberJournalist.net has developed a code of ethics adapted from Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics which is really useful.
Amongst the the blogging code (which can be read in full here) are three main pillars:
- Be honest and fair
- Minimize harm
- Be accountable
Or maybe, like a good bottle of wine, the good ones organically grow in stature over time while the others end up in the bargain bin.
What do you think?
What score out of 10 would you give yourself this year based on the criteria listed?
Can you improve in 2011?
Images courtesy of sxc.hu.