Sunday, November 13, 2016

Can We Trust Social Media?

Perry Yert

Remember when Wikipedia was accessible for anyone to edit or add information? It was considered an unreliable source for academic writing. If anyone could add or edit information, it becomes difficult to differentiate what is true and what is not. The same goes for social media. How can we determine a credible and trustworthy source from a hoax? The answer lies in the value of trust. Trust on social media is established through reliable sources. By first locating where information came from, we can determine if it is trustworthy.

An example of trusting social media sources can be referred back to the article Twitter: always first, not always right by Pete Cashmore. The death of Whitney Houston first appeared on twitter from the username “ @chilemasgrande.” Social media allows anyone to divulge any sort of information whether it is true, half true, or false. Although this social media handle may have delivered the death 30 minutes before the Associated Press, it did not have full details or the same amount of trust. People either didn’t believe it or believed the wrong information. That is why it is so important to check where your information came from before further spreading it or taking it seriously. It is also important to stay up to date with credible sources. Information is likely to change or expose itself more throughout time.

With the possibility of expressing any thought, true or not, on Twitter, is this really a platform we can trust? In the article Is All of twitter Fair Game for Journalists by Amanda Hess the topic of the blurred line between reporters is discussed. Discussing a topic or conversing in one may lead to your association with that topic. For example, in this article, Christine Fox responded to a rape tweet for an open discussion. This open discussion was reposted onto several platforms including Facebook, Buzzfeed, and all over Twitter. She never consented to being the face of rape survivors. From this, we can conclude that Twitter is a private platform; however, not all information is reportable. Reporters need to sit back and strategically think about the information they report. Is this information true? Is this information valuable? How will it affect person to person? There needs to be an ethical boundary set for journalists and reporters who gather information from social media platforms.

Keeping this idea of trust in mind, we can apply this to our working lives. When you work for a company, you represent that company to the public. It is imperative to be knowledgeable on your company’s mission statement and commitments. For example, Coca Cola’s company commitments include being transparent, protecting customer privacy, respecting third-party rights, using technology responsibly, and monitoring social media behavior. Not only are these commitments essential for employee’s work, it is essential to carry these out on their own personal social media accounts. If you are affiliated with Coca Cola and you veer away from company commitments online, you are automatically associated with that bad behavior. Remember-everything online is permanent.

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