3 Rules of Social Media Integrity

photo credit: Artotem via photopin cc

After seeing images I created for this blog show up on social media without any indication of where they came from, I tweeted this:

This was not the first time someone has taken a photoshop or image from my blog or Facebook page and passed it off as their own.

Unfortunately, I framed this in a “give me credit” manner, when that was not my main point. Certainly I wish others would link or mention me when they use something I made, but that would be handled if social media users, particularly Christians, were concerned or educated about integrity online.

My primary concern is that we are people of integrity, no matter if we are on social media or in conversation at a coffee shop.

The same rules apply on social media as they do in real life. Just as you should not claim to have taken a photo or painted a portrait when you weren’t involved in their physical creation, you should not pass off as your own something you did not do digitally.

Follow these three social media rules to avoid stealing the work of others and to maintain a life, including the online portion, of integrity.

1. Retweet or share as often as possible – The most direct way to give credit to others is by directly sharing their work and words. You can do that through retweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook.

It can be tempting to take the image tweeted out or the thoughts shared in someone’s Facebook status and pass them off as your own. But if they are interesting enough that you want to share them with others, do so while pointing others to the one who originated it.

2. Link as frequently as possible – As a blogger, I always appreciate a link to my blog. Recently, my post about Christian Halloween candy started getting a lot of shares on social media. For many of these people, this was their first time reading my work.

When they shared my post, I didn’t expect them to tag me on Twitter. They don’t even know I’m on Twitter. But sharing a link is giving credit and something of value to the blogger – additional traffic. It is always appreciated when you point to someone’s blog, instead of giving away the best content through your Twitter or Facebook.

3. Give credit as much as possible – Always look to give credit. When 20 people are sharing the same link on Facebook or Twitter, there’s no need to mention every friend or follow if you share the story. But if one person has an interesting link that no one else has noticed, make note of it. Go the extra mile in crediting others for what they do on social media. Thank them. Retweet them. Link them.

Reverse the normal way of doing things. Instead of giving credit to others only when it is absolutely necessary, do it at every possible moment. Rather than sharing attention with someone else only when you are forced to do so, share it freely and frequently. Look for ways to give others credit, not take it for yourself.

Be it online or off, build relationships and trust by being generous with attention and credit. You will not be perfect at it, but when your name is synonymous with integrity, mistakes will be easily forgotten. If, however, you continually take undeserved credit, mistakes will only serve to further cement your negative reputation.

Practice integrity and authenticity everywhere, even (especially) on social media.

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About Author

Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.