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Should We Expect Ethical Conduct In Social Media?

by David Brock on November 11th, 2009

Twitter is an important element of our social media and overall marketing strategy.  I try to find outstanding content to point my followers to and am proud of the reputation I’ve established as a person that provides “tweets” of value.

Recently, I’ve noticed people copying my tweets and sending them out as their own.  At first, I thought they had eliminated the RT @davidabrock because then they would be over 140 characters.  When I am RT’ing, I sometimes find that a challenge and have to eliminate some people–but never the original provider.  I always feel bad about it, but I try to leave “credit” to the originator of the tweet.

But the issue I am speaking of is different.  I’ve noticed several individuals (who describe themselves as people tweeting about leadership, etc.) taking my tweets—word for word—and tweeting them as their own.  I’ve tested these to see if they could have done a RT, and in every case they could have.  So they are choosing to copy my tweets (which I view as my content) and send it as their own.  Unfortunately, their sloppiness in doing this does them in.  All my original content tweets are done through Hootsuite, so when you click on the link, you see my name in the bar that Hootsuite inserts over the content.  This is how I know it was my tweet, not a like minded thinker.

I’m struggling with some feelings.  While it is only 140 characters, and certainly not earthshaking, somehow I feel violated.  Somehow I feel the same way I’ve felt when someone has copied my content (an articles, pages or paragraphs from my website, etc.) and republished that as their own.  In these cases, it is clearly a case of copyright infringement, I don;t think this is so with tweets, but I still feel violated.

Should I feel that way, or am I being silly and letting my ego get tied up with this whole thing?  What is ethical behavior on things like Twitter?  Is it any different than blogs, websites, or other content?  Should we be as careful in respecting people’s tweets as we are in respecting their content at the website?

I know this is not unique (if only  because the people violating my tweets are doing so with others–search and the ID bars on most content give you wonderful clues and traceability).  What do you think?

If this is fair behavior, what does it mean to companies that hope to use Twitter as a powerful marketing, customer service, and customer awareness tool?  Can they establish trusted connections?

Well, I got that off my chest, it would be great to hear different views.  Maybe I have to change my way of thinking about things.  Maybe I am being too naive in my use of these tools.

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  1. It takes work to find good content. The sites and bloggers you find is part of the reward for being a good social media steward. It is a violation for someone to take that from you. Hive done the work, you deserve the credit.

  2. Maybe I’m old school but I feel anything that is written by someone else and is re-posted, etc. should be attributed to it’s original author. Just like when you write a book your tweets, blog posts, facebook posts are your own.

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