Los Angeles Times staffers have been warned: the Twitterverse isn't safe. Editor Russ Stanton and assistant managing editor Henry Fuhrmann have issued new guidelines governing the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook. They include:
• Integrity is our most important commodity: Avoid writing or posting anything that would embarrass The Times or compromise your ability to do your job.
• Assume that your professional life and your personal life will merge online regardless of your care in separating them.
• Even if you use privacy tools (determining who can view your page or profile, for instance), assume that everything you write, exchange or receive on a social media site is public.
• Just as political bumper stickers and lawn signs are to be avoided in the offline world, so too are partisan expressions online.
The LAT is the latest in a string of publications to have issued guidelines to staff governing the use of social media. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have also published new rules, which, like the LAT's, were designed to protect the paper's objectivity in the eyes of its readers -- drawing the ire of bloggers and members of staff who saw them as overly restrictive. Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz vowed "to now hold forth only on the weather and dessert recipes."