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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is a public post a quotable source? Due diligence in sharing information.

As the growing popularity of social media continues to enable more and more people to become content creators, aka... "journalists," I've noticed an increased lack of good o'l fact checking.

The social web makes it easier for people to share and spread information with a click, and sometimes it's truly with the best intentions, as was indicated in Wired magazine's answer to a question about sharing kidnapping alerts on Facebook. But, as the article describes, even the most seemingly newsworthy and well-intended information like a missing child alert can be inaccurate and essentially, undermine the overall trust we have in such systems.

As professionals with a job responsibility to tell company's news and share with those who report news (which, today ranges from traditional media to anyone with a Facebook account) it's important to insure that the original source is solid before dropping it into the nest of hungry birds in the social space. Unfortunately, I'm seeing some red flags that indicate ...dare I say it...lazy tactics. (Danny Brown shared his perspective last January.)

The social web has opened a river of quotable sources. Experts are tweeting, blogging, posting on Facebook and answering questions (possibly even being featured as experts) on Linkedin and Quora.
And, as such, Facebook status updates are being used in TV news reporting and "expert answers" from Quora are being dropped into press releases.This begs the question...is a public internet post a quotable source?

If it's a cut and paste, "make-my-job-easier" or "make-my-story-more-exciting" tactic, I'm going to say, no.
Where's the due diligence?

Quotes must be verified for accuracy and context. Finding them on the internet doesn't give them instant verification. The social web gives us more information more quickly than ever before. It's our job to check the source, verify context, and get permission for use.

With the rapid speed at which the general public will spread message, true or false, shouldn't we be making sure we've got it right from the get go?

Kary Delaria is a digital PR strategist and social media monitoring/measurement specialist for Kane Consulting, a Minneapolis-based social media firm specializing in cross-channel integration. She can be reached via email, kary@kaneconsulting.biz or on Twitter.