Column: Internet etiquette is a virtual minefield

Column: Internet etiquette is a virtual minefield

The internet is a tricky place to virtually hang out these days with the etiquette of social media becoming more sensitive by the day.

It may be a place where people say anything but I can assure you they are no longer always getting away with it.

For journalists such as myself, trained in media law and aware we could be sued for breaching the rules surrounding the courts, for example, we are careful in the way we approach publication.

We know who we can name and when, what constitutes defamation (libel) and contempt of court.

We research our facts and get incidents and information corroborated which may on occasion mean we are not first with the news – but we are first with the verifiednews.

But for most of the social media going public, rumour becomes fact in an alarmingly short time. And that is where the danger lies.

Because if you state something online, you are publishing too and subject to those same laws.

But the sensitivities of social media lie far beyond what it is actually legally safe to publish.

Now, where publication goes, judgement follows, even when the original intentions are innocent.

The latest trend on Facebook for mothers to reach out and name other ‘good mothers’ has sparked controversy, for example. T

houghtful as it seems to name one of two good mothers from a friend group,the ramifications of the so-called ‘Motherhood Challenge’ are far wider.

Even after you have negotiated the rocky waters of potentially implicating other friends are rubbish mothers by omission, the trend was labelled smug and cruel to non-mothers who do not or cannot have children.

As a non-mother I can assure you I flicked over these posts with tolerant disinterest but being offended is a full time pastime for some and often cloaked in anonymity.

Facebook itself came under fire this week for its Friends day video compilations, computer generated and often featuring exs and dead.

Fury followed even though publishing was optional and editing available.

Step carefully, it’s a virtual minefield.

This first appeared in titles including Lancashire Evening Post HERE