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Tighten up your social media policy so your employees aren't guilty of spreading misinformation through retweets...

by , 08 May 2013
You probably heard about the Boston Marathon bombings before you even got out of bed. Especially if you're a social media fanatic with your phone constantly logged into Twitter and Facebook. The fact that it's so easy to spread information on social media channels is why so many South Africans are buzzing about Burger King - even though the company's only officially opening its doors on our shores tomorrow. But beware, as social media also makes it easier than ever before to unwittingly fall for rumours! Here's how to make sure your employees aren't guilty of this.

 
Social media's had a huge impact on the way businesses spread information – none more so than media companies that gather and disseminate news. 
 
That's a good thing, as it's made it much easier to spread a message to the world.
 
But it's also effectively turned every single person who has a social media account into a publisher – which is a bad thing.
 
Beware any news you read in the social media space!
 
Because there's a lack of fact checking and lots of hysteria when you read 'news' on a social media site.
 
For example, someone hacked into the Twitter account for reputable news agency AP last week. 
 
'Once logged in, they tweeted about an attack on the White House, which sent the stock market falling. As the information came from a name people trust, they felt they could trust this information too', explains FSP Invest.
 
But the information was false.
 
This 'misinformation' aspect is why major print institutions have hired social media editors in the hope of limiting the chance that an employee makes an inaccurate or offhand comment on their behalf, says TheVerge
 
In fact, the AP has refreshed its social media guidelines, urging staff members to "avoid spreading unconfirmed rumours through tweets and posts."
 
Have you included your company's views on retweeting in your social media policy?
 
The AP news agency has now gone so far as to expand on the guidelines in its social media policy for employees, stating that they are prohibited from posting material online that "spreads rumours." 
 
This includes simply reweeting hearsay.
 
Because while a retweet doesn't necessarily equal an endorsement, 'the intent of a post can't always be separated from its effect', adds TheVerge
 
So even if your social media policy specifies that employees need to add a disclaimer to their bio stating that all views are their own, most people simply look at your tweets and retweets – not your bio.
 
And we increasingly believe anything that's published in the social media space, whether it's backed by fact or not, says FSP Business
 
That's why you need to make sure that your social media policy guides your employees into knowing when to comment and when to keep quiet in the social media space. 
 


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