AP updates social media guidelines a week after warning staffers about expressing opinions

Associated Press
The Associated Press has released an update to its social media guidelines. “Just as social media and its uses continue to evolve, so will our policies related to this topic,” wrote Tom Kent, AP’s deputy managing editor for standards and production, in a memo to staff.

The guidelines encourage staffers to use social media, noting, “These sites are now an integral part of everyday life for millions of people around the world. They have become an essential tool for AP reporters to gather news and share links to our published work.”

Some excerpts:

  • “We recommend having one account per site that you use both personally and professionally.”
  • “Employees must identify themselves as being from AP if they are using the accounts for work in any way.”
  • “It’s important to monitor your profile page to make sure material posted by others doesn’t violate AP standards; any such material should be deleted.”
  • “Employees should be mindful that any personal information they disclose about themselves or colleagues may be linked to the AP’s name.”
  • “Everyone who works for AP must be mindful that opinions he or she expresses may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news.”
  • “It is acceptable to extend and accept Facebook friend requests from sources, but we should try to avoid situations that may jeopardize AP’s reputation by giving the appearance of bias.”
  • “To keep track of tweets by newsmakers, we recommend using a Twitter list that allows you to receive postings without joining the person’s official list of followers.”
  • “Don’t break news that we haven’t published, no matter the format.”
  • “If you have a piece of information, a photo or a video that is compelling, exclusive and/or urgent enough to be considered breaking news, you should file it to the wire, and photo and video points before you consider putting it out on social media.”
  • For material that ends up on the cutting room floor, “it is acceptable to share it on social networks. … Sharing this type of content can help you build your personal brand, which AP encourages.”
  • “You must never simply lift quotes, photos or video from social networking sites and attribute them to the name on the profile or feed where you found the material.”

Earlier: AP warns staff about expressing opinions on social networks
Related: Lauren McCullough is leaving her post as AP’s audience and engagement manager for msnbc.com’s Breaking News.

Other recent social media guidelines:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=504633504 Dan Mitchell

    There is no rationale. It just shows that they’re utterly clueless. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/neal.riley Neal J. Riley

    Interesting, I would think “friending” a source on Facebook would be more suspect than following a Twitter feed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricklcoleman Patrick L. Coleman

    Neal — there are people who think that, yes. A presentation at the recent College Sports Information Directors of America convention recommended the same thing for that reason. It was met with mixed reviews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/neal.riley Neal J. Riley

    Can someone explain the rationale behind this rule?

    “To keep track of tweets by newsmakers, we recommend using a Twitter
    list that allows you to receive postings without joining the person’s
    official list of followers.”

    So does following someone imply that you endorse their beliefs?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sparkyo Jeffrey Hoffman

    Obviously the AP does not want staffers to use social media in any way that might provide any actual utility to the staffers. I suggest one short rule to lessen the complicated verbiage: If it’s any fun, it shouldn’t be done!