The BBC published an official social media guide Thursday, codifying the "don't do anything stupid" rule media organizations generally hope their employees will follow. As we all know, free-wheeling tweeting and tumbling can get you into serious trouble. And, given that some news folk learned the ropes on their Remingtons, it's not a bad idea for media companies to set guidelines for their employees.
This isn't the first news organization to issue official rules to its journalists. The Associated Press, LA Times, and NPR are just a few others who've taken the precaution to avoid any snafus. Perusing the handbooks of these esteemed media companies, you'll find common messages--important lessons for anyone with a computer.
The Internet isn't private. All social media guides emphasize that privacy does not exist online. If you do something shady online, people will find out. The BBC reminds its people, "you are on show to your friends and anyone else who sees what you write, as a representative of the BBC. If you are editorial staff, it doesn't make much difference whether or not you identify yourself as someone who works for the BBC."
Online chatter is not like telling a secret in person, explains the LA Times, "It’s not just like uttering a comment over a beer with your friends: It's all too easy for someone to copy material out of restricted pages and redirect it elsewhere for wider viewing."