A Lawyer’s View: Bulletproofing your Tweets

The Value of Social Media for gathering information, developing your public persona as a journalist, and promoting your work is well-recognized, writes Jeff Hermes, Director of the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Yet promoting investigative work on social media platforms poses special challenges. In an article for INN, Hermes, who operates the Online Media Legal Network, details the issues at play and offers some guidelines to consider. Among them:

*Never say anything about the story in a social media context that you would not be comfortable publishing in the text of the story itself.

*Facts that did not make it into the article should not appear in social media–particularly those facts removed during the vetting process.

*Be circumspect about stating your personal opinions about people or companies referenced in the story.

*If you realize that you have made a mistake in an article, do not panic or rush to apologize through social media.  Instead, follow your organization’s procedure for retractions and  work on any further response with your editor. An apology can help in some cases, but it might also be used against you as an admission of negligence.