Updated (4:20 01.19): The Associated Press released a shiny new set of social media guidelines on Tuesday, a sure sign that one of the world's oldest media organizations is making moves to keep up with the times. (No pun intended.) "The world of social media is a fast-moving one, and the guidance we offer AP journalists needs to keep up," AP social media editor Eric Carvin, when we asked about the motivation behind releasing new guidelines now. "We’d rather be overly aggressive in refining our guidance than leave AP people uncertain about how best to use these tools." We'd guess it might also have something to do with the criticism the organization received for its handling of some Occupy-related retweets a couple of months ago.
If you don't know much about Twitter or Facebook or, well, social media in general, it's actually a great primer. This means that if you talked your mom into joining Twitter over the holidays, you should consider sending her a copy of The Associated Press Social Media Guidelines (PDF) tucked sweetly into a bouquet of flowers. Check out the good beginners' knowledge:
Many athletes, celebrities and politicians have verified Twitter accounts, meaning that Twitter has determined that the account really does belong to that person. However, even Twitter’s verification process has been fooled, meaning we should still do our own checking with the newsmaker. Also, before you quote from newsmaker’s tweets, confirm who is managing the account. Is it the famous person? His or her handlers? A combination? Knowing the source of the information will help you determine just how newsworthy the tweet is and how to characterize it.
The most interesting update is a section devoted to corrections, an issue that presents itself not infrequently for Twitter addicts that tweet dozens of times a day. Like Twitter itself, the AP's rules for employee corrections are simple:
Erroneous tweets or other social media posts need to be corrected as quickly and transparently as errors in any other AP service. This applies to AP-related tweets or posts on personal accounts as well. The thing to do is to tweet or post that we made a mistake and explain exactly what was wrong.
Nevertheless, the new guidelines make great sense. With the exception of this last line: "Serious errors need to be brought to the attention of a Nerve Center manager and the appropriate regional or vertical desk." We have no idea what a "Nerve Center manager" is, but it sounds futuristic!