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The sole goal of the media is to reach mass audiences with the transmitted message. Earlier the main sources of information would include the traditional media like Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Television etc., Now people have started depending on the contemporary media for information .Subsequently, the online and the social media are gaining prominence.
What are the principles governing the Online and the Social Media? What would be the standards of Online and the Social Media? Does the Media law regulate the content to the stipulated extent? Is ethics followed in Online and Social Media? While practicing ethics in Online and social media what are the issues faced , the constraints confronted and the opportunities that we come across?
Considering the Online and the Social media that have become an inevitable part of life of any individual today, a thorough study will reveal the opportunities and the threats.
- Online and Social media
The Online media and Social media refer to the digital media in which information is made available in the forms of music, photos, videos etc., which are distributed in the internet. These media entertain socialinteraction among people in which they create, share or exchange information, photos, video and ideas in virtual communities andnetworks.
The mobile phone and the internet have transformed to an integral part of the human schedule or in other words, life itself. The usage of mobile phones is increasing vastly not only in the urban but also rural areas with innumerable mobile operators entering the market day in and day out. The slashing down of the internet charges and the internet services being made available in the mobile phones have drastically increased the prominence of the online and the social media.
The Online and Social Media can transmit the message instantaneously. This media is also a more personalized version of all the other media or in other words we have the complete authority to edit the content. Certain principles govern the social media and these principles decide the success of communication in the media.
The information that is shared in the social media ought to be authentic. This authenticity of information be it personal, or of the company helps in building trust.
The length of the post determines the number of views. Minimize on the length – Be crisp and clear.
Social media is being used as a marketing tool to earn likes for the specific products or for the company. Creating a community determines the success in SMM and it happens in a slower pace. Sharing some useful or interesting piece of information that would interest the group as well as sharing and showing interest in the information shared by the peers would help in nurturing a larger group.
The interaction plays an important role as well in the social media. As a company, a response is a must, be it for a compliment from the customer or for a complaint.
(Jon Reed, 2013, 7 principles of Social Media Marketing)
(Five Basic Principles of Social Media, 2014)
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The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP) has defined the standards for the Organization leaders and the staff, affiliates, consultants etc., to follow certain these set standards.
- Industry laws and guidelines are also applicable in social media.
- The information should be updated at all times and people should be open to criticisms/ appreciations
- While opposing, maintain a polite language.
- Take responsibility for all the content .
- Respond to queries/ comments .
- Be responsible for the content and think before you post.
- Adhere to moral principles, honesty and be open .
- Know to differentiate the personal and the professional boundaries.
- Be authorized and official.
- Avoid violations of standards .
The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP) has defined the standards for the Organization leaders and the staff, affiliates, consultants etc., not to do certain activities .
- Do not share or disclose material that the organization or affiliate organization considers is forbidding, harassing, illegal, obscene, defamatory, libelous, or hostile towards any individual or entity.
- Do not share or disclose phone numbers or email addresses of yourself or any other individual or entity
- Do not display material that violates on the rights of the organization or any individual or entity, including privacy, intellectual property or publication rights. This includes the unauthorized use of (but is not limited to) images, logos, videos, content, documents, white papers, etc.
- Do not publish material that promotes or advertises a commercial product or solicits business / membership or financial or other support in any business, group or organization.
- Do not post chain letters, post the same comment multiple times as this would be termed as spam.
- Do not permit any other individual or entity to use your identity for posting in or viewing social medias.
- Do not use multiple identities or the identity of others.
(AFP’s Social media guidelines,2013)
Social Media is a form of media in which the information intended reaches instantaneously as well as globally and fetches response due to the inherent quality of interaction. Balancing ethics in social media is a difficult task as access to social media is available to all and there is no control over the content.
Like any other media, Accuracy and authenticity are two main points of ethical importance. The information shared in the social media is available to a community when shared and when it gets shared repeatedly there is no control over the content.
The professionals, journalists, public figures etc., are expected to possess the quality of Impartiality to be ethical. The social media networking with political parties, organizations would create notions of “biasing” which is unethical.
Avoid defaming statements against individuals/ organizations in the social media. Subsequently ,avoid commenting on the customs, culture, beliefs of different religions, countries etc., Recommending publicly in a social media is also considered unethical.
(NPR Ethics handbook, 2012)
The protection of privacy of the customers is ensured using the regulatory laws. The employer’s level of inspecting the social media updates of the current and future employees is governed by the regulatory law. Marketing of products using social media, revealing financial reports of companies etc., are governed by a guidance law. Defining of procedures for the employees‘ business use of social media, the inspection and the control is also covered by a law. Guidelines that clearly explain on what situations the company can obtain and use it for legal investigations are also available.
- Ethical Practices on Online and Social Media
The employees of a company when communicating on behalf of a company have to be ethical in terms of complimenting their own company as well as avoid criticizing the competition in a social media. The access to social media in business hours for personal reasons is an unethical practice.
Professionals like lawyers, judges involved in the same case could be friends and their interactions in social media could cause negative references for the case.
Social networking with the political parties or with the important leaders of the political parties could create negative remarks in the professional profile.
(Ethical Challenges of Social Media, 2011)
Updating business profiles by the professionals like the doctors, lawyers are legal advertisements even when they are not intended to and could cause ethical problems in their profession.
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Sharing of confidential information both professional and personal have to be avoided to be ethical.
The security factors whilst using a social media are to be dealt with paramount importance. Neglecting or ignoring such factors could push us to unnecessary complications.
The recruiting companies demand social media personal account details for monitoring the emlpoyees’ activities. The borderline between the personal and the professional activities becomes indistinct.
(10 Tips for Avoiding Ethical Lapses When Using Social Media, 2014)
Being present in most of the social media with the same identity also helps in building brand image and trust. Social media does not stop with sharing information but it extends till the peer group responds either positively or negatively. The secret of success lies in the unique posts in social media to reach the maximum audience.
Knowledge Sharing : This is a very significant opportunity of the Social Media. People in the same professional line can share information on specific cases and the success stories which could be of great use to the others and sometimes the others in the cimmunity could come out with different ideas.
Life Sharing : Social media is a powerful tool to share photos, videos using Youtube, Flickr etc., to get the actual feel of events.
Social Networking : This networking helps in sharing the status, photos , video etc., with the friends, relatives living in different places. One post updates the whole set of friends/ relatives in the group.
Business Networking : Business networking using social media like Linkedin helps in procuring information on job opportunities and freelancing from the community.
Community Building : Social networking communities like Collaborate, Collect etc., is a common platform for messaging, document sharing etc., with a mobile apps used in an i-phone.
(Social Media Constraints and Opportunities Project,2011)
The online and the social media also has to be treated as important as the traditional media and one has to understand that the media laws govern these media as well. The access to online and the social media is available to all unlike the other media and so it is important for us to know the regulations and the restrictions failing which legal actions are also feasible. Sharnig persona or confidential information can also lead to cyber crimes.
Ethical Challenges of Social Media ,2011, http://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_22_the_ethical_challenges_of_social_media.pdf
AFP’s Social media guidelines: Ethical, safe and effective practical standards, 2013, http://www.afpnet.org/files/ContentDocuments/SocialMediaGuidelines_OnePage.pdf
Christina Vassiliou Harvey, Mac R. McCoy, Brook Sneath, 2014, “10 Tips for Avoiding Ethical Lapses When Using Social Media”, http://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/03_harvey.html
NPR Ethics handbook, 2012, http://ethics.npr.org/tag/social-media/
The Loudpixel Blog, “Five Basic Principles of Social Media” http://loudpixel.wpengine.com/blog/five-basic-principles-of-social-media/
Jon Reed, “7 principles of Social Media Marketing” http://www.getuptospeed.biz/2013/09/7-principles-of-social-media-marketing/
Michael Palenchar, University of Tennessee & Shari Veil, University of Kentucky, 2011, “Social Media Constraints and Opportunities Project”, available from http://www.ncfpd.umn.edu/Ncfpd/assets/File/Social_Media_Webinar.pdf
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