Category Archives: privacy

Watch What You Say in Social Media


You will know doubt be as shocked as we were to discover that Kiwi consumers do not like the idea that journalists are poring over their social media entrails, looking for juicy and salacious tidbits to share in mass media.

That is the unsurprising finding of a new NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority research report.

The BSA notes that:

Despite a strong information-sharing culture on social media, the public expect broadcasters to observe strict privacy standards – suggesting there is a double standard at play.

  • In general the public do not consider that broadcasters can just take any social media content and use it in the broadcasting context.
  • The public expect their social media content will remain in the context in which they published it because taking it out of that context can significantly affect its impact and message, and the likely audience.

Broadcasters and mainstream media, on the other hand, have quite a different perspective:

  • When selecting social media content, the starting point for many broadcasters is whether the content is newsworthy – but they are also alert to issues around individual rights, privacy and consent.
  • Broadcasters rely on the general principle that it will usually be okay to republish information already in the public domain.

The whole “yes I said that in social media — but I didn’t mean for it to become public” issue has been a challenging one across many years, and has led to many consumers modifying their choices of social media network and switching to messaging apps and other closed-user platforms.

We shouldn’t be particularly surprised that, in an era dominated by clickbait headlines, paparazzi pursuits and “it’s okay to hack celebrities’ cellphones as long as you don’t get caught” attitudes, social media posts are considered fair game.

Although the BSA talks about issuing new guidelines for broadcasters, recommending that they seek consent to use social media content, today’s “first, fast and five minutes sooner than anyone else” editorial mantra is that it is unlikely that things will change any time soon.

Businesses, as well as individuals, should simply take note that whatever you say in social media can and often will be used against you. Or, to hark back to an earlier era, “loose lips sink ships (and careers)”.