As an Online Content Creator – whether it be as a blogger, a video blogger, a podcaster, a microblogger or a general social media participant – you are an important part of the wider public knowledge creation and discussion. This role carries with it a responsibility to be fair, honest and respectful not only toward your fellow members of society but also toward fact. The content you create today will more than likely outlast both the content’s relevance and your own lifetime and it is of vital importance that it be a truthful representation of the topic at hand not only for those who access it today but for those who access it in the distant future. Above all else your job as a Content Creator is to present fact as fact and opinion as opinion. To this end I have created a Blogger and Content Creator’s Code of Ethics that outlines the ethical guidelines any and all Content Creators should go by when publishing material of any sort for public consumption. The Blogger and Content Creator’s Code of Ethics is closely based on the Code of Ethics for the Norwegian Press published by the Norwegian Press Association and adhered to by all members of the Norwegian press.
This is a work in progress. Please submit your comments, questions, suggestions and edits in the comments below and I will apply them as time allows.
For the full version of the Code of Ethics please visit the page dedicated to this topic found here.
1. It is your right to voice your opinion. Freedom of Speech, Information, Publication and Expression are basic elements of a democracy. As a Content Creator it is your obligation to use and protect these rights at all times.
2. Be critical of everything, even your self. As a Content Creator you are part of the creation of free knowledge creation and discussion. It is your obligation to shed critical light on what goes on in society as well as how Content Creators, including your self, are presenting these events.
3. Use your power to protect. As a Content Creator you can shine a light on injustices and neglect perpetrated on individuals and groups. Use this power wisely.
4. Tell the truth at all times. With great power comes great responsibility. Words and images are powerful weapons that should be used with the utmost care. When publishing content, present the facts as they are, even if you disagree with them.
5. Present your opinion as your opinion. Your opinion and interpretation of events is important and should be shared but must never be confused with hard facts or data. When voicing your own or someone else’s opinion or interpretation, always state it as such. Never present opinion, interpretation or conjecture as fact.
6. State your allegiances to stay independent. To preserve your own trustworthiness and integrity as a Content Creator, always state any relation, financial, personal, political or otherwise, to the subject or topic you are presenting. Bias, even if it is only perceived as such, immediately discredits your account unless you warn of it first. In simple terms; if you have a political affiliation that colours your judgment, say so; if you are employed by or received money from the subject you are covering, say so; if you were given gifts or preferential treatment in return for a positive review or commentary, say so. By stating these facts of allegiance your opinions gain informational value that would otherwise be lost in suspicion of bias.
7. Reveal your sources unless doing so can harm your sources. Always reveal your sources to ensure transparency unless doing so may put the source in harms way. In ensuring transparency you lend credibility to your own content as well as provide others to further pursue the facts of the matter.
8. Be critical of your sources and seek independent verification. Even if you are ethical and unbiased there is no guarantee your sources are. Before presenting information as fact, always check your source’s credibility and seek independent verification of these facts. If none can be found, state so clearly.
9. Always give credit where credit is due. Give proper attribution when using, quoting or basing your content on the work of others. In other words present quotes as quotes, link to original articles, give photo and illustration credit to the original creator etc.
10. Always preserve the intended meaning of a given statement. When quoting or paraphrasing a statement always ensure that the intended meaning is communicated. Never edit or change a statement in such a way that the intended meaning is changed.
11. Give your opponent a chance to respond. The very foundation of an open discussion is to give either side an opportunity to voice their opinion. Always provide an opportunity for your opponent to present the case of the opposing side.
12. Admit and correct your mistakes immediately. When an inaccuracy or error in your content is discovered by you or someone else, correct it immediately and announce that you have done so to ensure that those who base their opinions and other content creation on the incorrect information have a chance to make corrections as well. It is your duty to uphold the truth and present fact even if that means admitting you were wrong.
5 replies on “A Code of Ethics for Bloggers and Social Media”
I believe that the time is right for such and thing. I found this foodie code of ethics just yesterday. http://foodethics.wordpress.com/the-code/
Let’s keep this idea going.
As this develops I’m planning on making some sort of tag or plugin for bloggers so they can easily adopt the Code of Ethics and place it on their own sites.
Excellent post, Morten (as expected). You’re right on with this code of ethics.
There’s been a lot of discussion online about this topic (I think I saw a wiki-style page with a blogging code of ethics, but I can’t recall – it was ages ago) but lately it’s resurfaced because of the discussions on pay-per-post and the whole BlogHer swag debacle.
There’s also talk about a “Blogging with Integrity” badge or side bar thing that has sparked controversy. I haven’t followed that discussion too closely but it’s a great idea to just revisit all these points.
I blog using my real name so I am careful to write what I can stand behind. It’s a creative outlet for me.
As a relatively new blogger, I can say this issue of integrity in blogging has been coming up for me a lot. I have to say that truthfulness and accuracy are important to me as they affect the credibility and integrity of my blog … but being a newbie, I’m always expecting someone to tap me on the shoulder (so to speak) and say, you shouldn’t say that (my old man still speaks to me!)
The code of ethics for bloggers is a welcome development, and it fills in the background for me, as I strike out into this bold new world of blogging. Nice work, and thanks for this thoughful piece!