A Lawyer’s View: Bulletproofing your Tweets

Jeff Hermes, then director of the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, offered these tips in 2011 on promoting investigative work on social media platforms:

  • 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.