Who I Trust On Social Media. …Do I Trust Anyone?


Today we were asked to identify who we trust on social media.  I was not really sure where to go with this assignment because I don’t really feel like I go on social media to engage in “trusting relationships.”  So, in order to do the assignment, I began to reflect on what I was looking for when choosing to follow someone on social media.  To me, earning trust on social media is delivering the content or experience or even personality that I followed you for.  So I suppose I would say that a social media account that I “trust” is one without a lot of surprises.

In order to find specific people that I trust on social media, I literally went through my list of followed accounts and eliminated any organizations.  Not that I don’t trust organizations to deliver to social media profile I followed them for, but because this assignment asked us to speak about individuals specifically.  After I sorted out the individuals, I went through and asked myself the following questions: “Why have I followed this person?” and “Have they delivered on that expectation?”

For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised with my results.  Most of the people that I follow have remained consistent on social media and whatever they are “selling” has been apparent, but not in my face.  For example, I follow the Twitter account for our very own President, Barack Obama.  Now, I am not so naïve to think that President Obama is sitting in the White House coming up with insightful Tweets to share with me.  But the account does deliver on showing me “candid” pictures of the president during his travels, as well as discusses issues that I would assume the President finds important.  I also have chosen to follow Speaker of the House John Boehner in hopes that he will provide a counter argument to many of the issues the President discusses and by that regard, he is certainly running a trustworthy social media presence.  On a more personal scale, I follow some of my favorite graffiti artists trusting them to “debut” new works and purchase opportunities on these platforms before anywhere else.

What I have found myself reflecting on most during this assignment is the question of whether or not I actually trust ANYONE on social media.  Maybe my definition of trust is skewed.  Maybe I expect too little from the people I follow because I don’t really expect anyone to be trust worthy in the first place.  Overall, I have enjoyed the exercise and have a lot to think about when trying to create trust with the people that follow me.

Am I cynical for not really trusting anyone on social media?

Is social media really the platform for expressing and maintaining real trustworthy relationships?  Is “social media trust” different than “real trust?”

Let me know what you think in the comments!


Social Media Trust: How Do I Even Know You’re Human?!?


The lecture for this week was interesting in that it gave me a lot to consider when deciding whether or not I trust someone on social media.  Ironically, I think I have been going through this process already when deciding who to follow or who to share content from.  The following equation was given for us to analyze and discuss on its merits when “calculating trust:”


Personally, I think this equation is missing one element that I am going to attempt to describe: Connection Credibility (C squared for the purposes of fitting in the equation).  I agree with everything that is listed on the above formula but think there is one more thing to consider.  When I decide to follow someone or share their content, I am very interested in who else that person is following or where that content might have come from.  For example, if I am looking to follow an influencer in higher education, I will look at who they are following and who they are connecting with on social media.  On the other hand, if I am sharing content from someone, I will try and find the underlying source of that content.  If an article says a city has seen less crime rates due to the issuing of more public concealed weapon carry permits, I might question the article, especially if it was shared by someone with a connection to the NRA.  Connection credibility.


The other question we had to discuss was how we felt the Northern Rail Company was doing on social media.  The above timeline was shared and I was very impressed with the response rate and relevance of the company.  It felt like a real person with real connections to the company (credibility through connection, aha!) who was capable of bringing about positive change for the customer.  I have experienced this on my own when Tweeting the XBOX Twitter account and was very impressed with their response.    

Terms and Conditions: Revisiting eduClipper!


                If you have been following my blog for a little while now, you know that I am a fan of the online social media platform eduClipper.  What I like about the platform is that it is a place for both teachers and students to come together to explore, share, and contribute resources to help enhance teaching and learning of both formal and personal nature.  My personal reflections on the platform addressed any initial concerns of such a specific social media platform by showing how great the service really helps with needs that cannot be met on other platforms like Pinterest.  Today, I would like to discuss eduClipper’s Terms of Service; specifically in regards to ethical implications and how eduClipper has addressed them.

The most obvious ethical implication to consider with a platform like eduClipper is the fact that it is marketed to students as well as teachers.  With students using the platform, there are a lot of unique elements to consider and eduClipper has done a great job of safeguarding itself against these potential ethical pitfalls.  At the very top of the Terms of Service in BOLD with the word “IMPORTANT!,” is a statement about the use of eduClipper by people under the legal age to form a binding contract.  eduClipper insists that students must review this information with their parents before using the platform, safeguarding themselves from any potential problems with minors using the service.


                The Terms of Service for eduClipper are well written, thoughtful, and fairly digestible for the average reader (unlike Facebook).  Right from the beginning, the Terms are identified as a binding contract between you and the service.  Other issues within the contract are addressed by answering a basic question the user might have about their experience.  In particular, I liked the way eduClipper addressed privacy and potential copyright infringement.  These aspects are presented in a way that asks a given question consumers may very well have before using the service.  Amusingly, eduClipper has also included a “congratulations” message to the reader at the bottom of its terms in appreciation for actually finishing reading them.

Overall, I think eduClipper has done a very good job of addressing potential ethical problems associated with its use.  The Terms of Service are well written and ask the questions that consumers may very well have.  If I were to make any constructive criticism, I suppose it would actually be with the aesthetics.  eduClipper really is a very “good looking” site for the most part with the exception of this section.  While I understand that this is more of a contract than an actual extension of the experience on eduClipper, it still might make it a little easier to read if it were as good looking as the rest of the site.

Terms and Conditions: A Lecture Response on Mumbo Jumbo


The terms and conditions are probably the most important, unread document that we deal with on a daily basis.  When we update our iTunes, we agree to the legal terms and conditions without giving it a thought.  When we log in to social media, we agree to the terms and conditions without really even knowing what they are.  In some cases, this can lead to problems because we eventually find out “the hard way” what we have agreed to (see Kyle dealing with an extreme case of this on South Park).  Other times, agreeing is just the quickest way to get where we want to go and usually doesn’t result in any problems.  Usually……..


The lecture for this week asked us to admit if we read the Terms and Conditions and admittedly, I do not.  Further, as a follow up reading assignment for this course, we are supposed to read the Terms and Conditions for both Facebook and Twitter and I’m not sure I’m going to make it.  As the lecture pointed out, the Terms and Conditions for any media/technology site can be overwhelming and have the appearance of long, legal documents.  I didn’t go to law school! Can’t I just look at funny pictures of cats in peace without worrying that I am breaking the law?!?


Unfortunately, the answer to that is “No, you cannot.”  As Justin’s (@newsleader) lecture for this week pointed out, many facets and rules have had to be included in these documents and it leads me to wonder: Which came first: the lengthy documents or the silly legal dispute? I suspect that terms the lecture pointed out regarding Facebook such as “no bullying” or discouraging posting misleading information came because someone sued someone else for something that was on Facebook.  Which brings me to Twitter…


I feel Twitter actually does a pretty good job of making terms that basically say they will not be held responsible for content that users place on their service.  This seems to be the safer, more “free” way and if I were drafting Terms and Conditions for a social network that I was creating, I suspect they would say something similar.  If Stan Collymore does not want to see bullying on Twitter, he should probably stay off Twitter.  If I don’t want my children to be bullied on Facebook, then I should probably keep them off Facebook; just like I should turn off the TV if there is something I do not want them to see.  

Social Media Ethics Theory

Got ethics ?

I’m baaaaaack!  The summer semester for Mass Communication has begun; and with it, the first lecture in “Ethics and Social Media” from Professor Justin Kings (@newsleader).    This lecture was very appropriately titled “Ethical Theories and Social Media” as it has already given me a lot to think about!

The lecture began with a definition of “ethics;” which was described as moral principals that govern a person’s behavior.   What I liked about Justin’s lecture was that he went on to define the word “moral” within that definition to show its origin as a code of behaviors passed down by society.  This becomes very important when we consider future elements of ethical decisions including the question of our motivation and where our duty lies.  Justin would go on to describe a moral dilemma as “a choice between two or more potentially right choices.”  This got me to thinking:  What about two or more potentially wrong choices?  I think some of the most difficult ethical decisions are between two or more potentially wrong choices and we are essentially deciding between the lesser of two evils.

A system for making these decisions was discussed and included asking oneself the following three questions:  What are my motivations (or why)?  What are the likely effects (and to whom will they be effecting)? Finally, where does my duty lie?  I think these are all very important and fair questions to consider when making an ethical decision and they do a great job of including all the major stakeholders in the decision.  I’m sure there is not always going to be a “black and white” way of defining these stakeholders, but it is a good start.

A great illustration was made as an example that included a journalist who has “friend requested” the acquaintance of a murder suspect in order to gain insight into the alleged crime.  The question arose: should this journalist have to identify themselves?  What a dilemma indeed!  Personally, I think a journalist’s largest obligation is to uncovering the truth by any means necessary, so if the friend were to accept this request and engage with the journalist about the murder, it was the friend’s fault in the first place.  The murder suspect should have chosen more loyal friends.  Now, that’s easy to say when investigating a murder, but what about domestic infidelity?  Should a friend of my wife be allowed to friend request me without making it known that she is a friend in the interest of trying to catch me in a lie?  Hmmm…

Let me know what you think in the comments!