Fresh Guidance And Reminders About Social Media : Memmos Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott writes occasional notes about the issues journalists encounter and the way NPR handles them. They often expand on topics covered in the Ethics Handbook.
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Fresh Guidance And Reminders About Social Media

(Editor's note on July 27, 2017: Click here to go to an updated special section about the do's and don't's of social media.)

On Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media platforms, we've been doing lots of great work. Thank you for engaging with the audience in those places. It's very important.

Now, a "memmo" wouldn't be a "memmo" without some nudging. Here goes:

The political conventions are approaching. During them, you may be tempted to say some things on social media – especially when candidates are on stage and the urge to live tweet is strong. This is a good time to remind everyone about our thinking when it comes to social media.

- Keep your politics to yourself. And that means on Facebook too. You may think only your "friends" are seeing what you say, but they may share it widely.

- Control your cursing. NPR journalists don't swear on the air and we don't think they should be swearing in the digital world either. But we also know that language that isn't appropriate in one place is common in another. How about this: Don't use such words in anger and never in a way that might look like a political comment.

- No personal attacks, even if you're trolled.

- Speaking of trolls, don't feed them. Here's a tip: You do not have to respond to any obnoxious Tweet, Facebook post or other diatribe. They can be ignored. (If they feel threatening, please send a message about them to our internal distribution list, "NPRThreats.")

- If you do respond, stay classy. Something along the lines of "I'm sorry you feel that way and would like to hear more about why you do" is far better than "go back to the cave you crawled out of." Remember, "we are civil in our actions and words, avoiding arrogance and hubris. We listen to others."

- By the way, you can usually tell after one or two exchanges whether the person on the other end is willing to have a conversation or just wants to rant. If it's a conversation, great. If they're just ranting, disengage with something like, "thanks, I'm out. We just disagree."

There's more guidance in the Ethics Handbook, under "Social media."

There have also been several "memmos" on the subject:

- Before Super Tuesday, A Reminder About Social Media

- Reporter's Suspension For A Tweet Makes This A Good Time To Read Our Social Media Guidance

- Read This If You Use Social Media; Everyone Should Know Our Thinking