Whether you’re conducting business in an office, or you’re conducting business online, accuracy is essential to success. As a former newspaper editor, I know that you’re only as good as your word. From the standpoint of a consumer, I wouldn’t want to share the content or follow an organization that wasn’t posting accurate information on social media. I certainly wouldn’t want to make purchases from an organization that I didn’t trust.
Social media (especially Twitter) has sped up the rate at which people consume news and information, and that makes fact checking critical. News outlets are always trying to be the first to break a big story, but that doesn’t mean that accuracy can go out the window. Although it didn’t happen on social media, one news organization that was so focused on breaking a story and didn’t do enough fact checking, was KTVU News after the Asiana plane crash.
As funny as this mistake was, KTVU lost a lot of credibility after the incident. As much credit as a news organization might gain from breaking a story, all credibility is lost if that story is inaccurate. The audience expects news organizations to be accurate. It wouldn’t have taken much work or time for KTVU to fact check the information that they received, and if they had, they might not be the laughing stock of the entire world.
If any type of organization posts information on social media that turns out to be false, I don’t think it’s unethical for them to delete that post. Although organizations should aim to be transparent and should acknowledge their mistakes, if they leave the inaccurate information on their social media pages, people who are unaware of the situation may share and spread that false information. By deleting the inaccurate post, acknowledging their mistakes, and providing followers with accurate information, an organization can get back into the good graces of their consumers. Deleting a false post can actually show an organization’s followers that they care about the accuracy of the information that they’re spreading.
If I were the social media manager for KTVU and I had posted the inaccurate information on our social media pages, I think it would be unethical not to delete the post. As humorous as the mistake was, people died in the crash. Leaving the post up would be in bad taste for the families that lost a loved one in the crash because to them it’s not a joke.