Ethics in the blogosphere

April 4, 2009 at 12:00 am (1) (, , , )

 Ethics and the Internet are not exactly co-dependant principles in the realm of blogging and social media.  As part of a society so reliant on information received from the Internet, it is often difficult to decipher the truth.

Ethics in blogging brings to mind the doubt that most communicators grapple with in their career: ghost blogging.  Ghost blogging can be defined as a blog run and managed by anonymous author(s), often written on behalf of someone else.  The most common example of ghost blogging is one written on behalf of a CEO. 

In response to the trend, several companies employ ghost writers to update company blogs and web sites.  I don’t have an issue with ghost blogging, as long as it is fully disclosed.  The idea of being duped into thinking that something is true, when it’s not is not my definition of ethical practice in PR.  Transparency in ghost blogging is key to your credibility.  

In Eric Eggertston’s blog: The Ethics of Ghost Blogging, he rasises the question of whether there should be more transparency about the role PR practitioners play in ghost blogging.  He believes that more identification of the behind-the-scenes work would be a good thing, eliminating the need for secret authorship. 

Many bloggers are of the stance that if you subscribe to ghost blogging, then you shouldn’t be blogging at all. That is the opinion of  CEO blogger, Michael Hyatt in his post: Ghost Blogging and Twittering. In his post he explores how those who use ghost writers don’t understand that social media only works well if the communication is personal, authentic, and near-immediate.  If people know they are not communicating and networking with the “real” author, then they may be less inclined to continue to continue that social interaction.

I do understand the appeal of hiring a ghost blogger.  For one, there is never enough time for a busy CEO or professional that may not be the best writer.   A ghost blogger will ensure that regular blog updates are being posted and can free up time for other more immediate tasks.  

Is it a violation of ethics in PR?  Not if it is done with full disclosure.  If that’s not the case,  you are simply acting in a misleading manner towards your audience(s).  

Do you think there could be more transparency in blogging?

 

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