IPSO: Journalists warned against using misleading social media posts

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Journalists have been urged to be careful about the use of social media posts in new guidelines released by the press watchdog.

The Independent Press Standards Organization has released new guidelines to help newsrooms use social media in their work.

Issues discussed include warnings about the misleading impression that can be created by posting older photographs and social media posts and the importance of checking timestamps, especially in news situations.

It also clarifies that material inaccuracies or misleading statements that appear on newspapers‘ social media should also be corrected through the same media.

HTFP reported in July how the Liverpool Echo was ordered to post a correction on Twitter after it failed to edit its inaccurate description of a deceased woman as a ‘victim of murder’ on the social media site.

Although the IPSO found no code violations on the tweet at the time of publication, it ruled that the Echo’s failure to post a correction on Twitter after an arrested man was later released without indictment had rendered the message significantly inaccurate.

IPSO’s Senior Policy and Communications Officer, Hanno Fenech, wrote in a blog post about the new guidelines: “IPSO recognizes that social media is a powerful tool for journalists.

“It has become a crucial means of gathering information and more and more comments, information and photos taken from social media are used to illustrate stories or are central to the stories themselves. However, information on social media can be misleading and difficult to verify.

“IPSO has produced non-binding guidelines for editors and journalists which focus on clause 1 (accuracy), clause 2 (confidentiality), clause 4 (intrusion into grief or shock) and clause 6 (children).

“The guide is a framework for thinking through questions about the use of social media material and includes examples of relevant case study decisions made by IPSO’s Complaints Committee.”

The guide can be read in full here.

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