We could see how something like a company's social media rule book could be esoteric and uninteresting to regular readers, while somehow being interesting to journo dorks like us. But there's really interesting stuff in The Associated Press' new guidelines, we promise. Sure, it's an effort to show transparency (and other news organizations, like Sky News, have done the same), but the social media problems and The AP faces unique news organizations. For starters, they explain the trouble with "liking":
It is acceptable to extend and accept Facebook friend requests from sources, politicians and newsmakers if necessary for reporting purposes, and to follow them on Twitter. However, friending and “liking” political candidates or causes may create a perception among people unfamiliar with the protocol of social networks that AP staffers are advocates.
That's a little clunky, but basically, if you see your favorite AP reporter or blogger or anyone "liking" say, Michele Bachmann and her current McCarthyism spree on Facebook, it doesn't mean they actually "like" her comments. Rather, they're following that Bachmann's page, which might include valuable updates to the story. The Alantic's Garance Franke-Ruta has written about the problem with Facebook's "liking" sounding like an endorsement, and we wish more people (including non-journalists) would listen. And riffing off of that, The AP also explains the trouble with retweeting: That no one cares if your bio notes that retweets aren't endorsements:
Examples of retweets that can cause problems:
1. RT @jonescampaign: smith’s policies would destroy our schools
2. RT @dailyeuropean: at last, a euro plan that works
Introductory words, colons and quote marks help make the distinction:
1. Jones campaign now denouncing Smith on education. RT @jonescampaign: smith’s policies would destroy our schools
2. Big European paper praises euro plan. RT @dailyeuropean: at last, a euro plan that works
There are other updates, like AP journalists being allowed to live-tweet events before the stories get published and AP managers not friending their subordinates (but subordinates are totally allowed to do the friending) which are in their own ways helpful in case you were wondering how to get the latest information on Syria or entertained the thought about friending that intern (don't).
Head on over to The AP to see their new guidelines.