Social Media and Just the Facts, Ma’am

Quote Not entitled to own facts I believe in free speech as much as the next guy, maybe more. But sometimes the comments that pass for fact on social media sites make me a little crazy.

Sure, the point of social media is to be social and it’s fun to comment back and forth as if we were smiling and laughing at a cocktail party or chatting to our neighbor over the back fence.

But online media adds another element. Depending on your privacy settings, what you post can also be public speech and a certain responsibility goes along with what reasonable people say in public.

Now, online exchanges venting about a product or service that isn’t working right or customer service that isn’t responding well may get you faster action. The same goes for word of mouth recommendations or warnings and that’s a good thing.

However, making up facts or passing along dubious claims is another story. We’ve all heard versions of the Big Lie Quote:  “Tell a lie often enough and it will become truth.”

Your opinions are your own, but facts are facts.   Yet I’ve done media literacy exercises with students who could not recognize the difference between fact and opinion.

Falsehoods spread on the Internet can be damaging as we witnessed with the recent twitter hack on the AP feed that affected the stock market. If a  news item on social media sounds fishy, pause before you pass it along.  (For example, people rush to post RIP’s for celebs who are  not dead, when two extra clicks would get them the facts).

Sometimes respected news organizations get their facts wrong too and I am not saying I go around acting like the fact police on social media or get into flame wars with people who express wrong-headed assertions as fact. (thought I am tempted at times).  I simply use restraint in my own social media activities.

A friend of mine said at a gathering of social media professionals that she views herself as “My Name, Inc.” in all her online interactions, whether it’s for business or personal purposes.

That’s a good practice for any expert who wants to establish and maintain an online reputation as a thoughtful, intelligent leader. Decide carefully what you will share in public.

It is similar to what I tell media clients. You cannot control what a reporter asks, but you can control what comes out of your mouth.

Beyond a quick Google search, here are some sites to help you “Check Your Facts:”

factcheck.org

snopes.com

politifact.com

What is your opinion?  😀  Please leave a comment.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Trainer/Coach at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Virtual Communication Specialist Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who teaches business professionals to communicate with impact on-camera, in media interviews, and as public speakers. Contact at http://bit.ly/Talk2Janet

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