[Steal This] Personal Social Media Policy
April 21st, 2008

Despite the popularity and widespread adoption of social tools, there’s little agreement when it comes to matters of our individual terms of use. Without a collective social contract for social media, many of us are left wondering: How do I define my own social policy? Until now, corporate social media developers are defining those policies for us. Some of us feel it’s time we defined social media according to our our own terms.

In 2007, Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington created A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web. Their bill was intended to “spur conversation and debate” around the need for users to be more proactive about the ownership and use of their personal social media content. For example, the right to:

“Allow their users to syndicate their own profile data, their friends list, and the data that’s shared with them via the service, using a persistent URL or API token and open data formats.”

I was inspired to extend this idea to speak to the more elusive question of social granularity. For example, to define my own policies around connecting, professionalism and signal to noise. The need to define these things along more personal terms was the basis for developing my own policy for social networking and media.

The following is a template based on my own personal Social Media Policy (SMP) for you to hack and remix. As ever, the content, tone and format is entirely up to you.

MY SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY

[a work in progress]

1. Connecting: Introduce yourself and tell me why you want to connect

[Would you like an introduction from new follows? Would you like them to answer a particular question about their interest in connecting? Define it here]

2. Follow, add, friend: [your subhead here]

[Your polices around friending, following and adding. For example, if people follow/friend you do you automatically reciprocate? Or do you prefer to evaluate the value of a contact over time? State it here, loud and clear]

3. Privacy, boundaries and safety: [your subhead here]

[Define your privacy/boundaries for friends, coworkers and family. Everybody has different ideas about what's "too much information." Friends, family and business associates have different ideas about who you are. While you may not be able to control what's said about you, you can certainly ask your network to be mindful of your limits]

4. Signal to noise: [your subhead here]

[Do you have any strong feelings about the kind of social media experience you seek (or don't)? For example, do you have a problem with people using RSS in their Twitter? Do you get annoyed by multiple status updates? Make that clear here (so people aren't surprised when you unfollow them - or vice versa)]

5. Personal data and sharing: [your subhead here]

[What's all this sharing about? (for you) Are you looking to connect more deeply according to shared interests, ideologies, professional goals?]

6. My networking needs and uses: [subhead here]

[How is your use of Facebook different from your use of Linkedin different from your use of Twitter different from your use of MySpace? What are your specific networking purposes or goals for each?]

7. Your criteria here: [subhead here]

[your policy, feelings, arguments here]

8. Your criteria here: [subhead here]

[your policy, feelings, arguments here]

By creating this policy I hope to challenge others to do the same and build on this example in order that we may, collectively, start to define some sort of social contract for social media.

Ideally, I’d love to see some Creative Commons-like tool that would allow users to craft their own personal social media contract as easily as they can create a CC license. Such a tool would also allow users to easily link or post the policy in a web friendly format.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.

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Comments

This is just what I was looking for. My students are writing their own social media policies, and I was planning to write a template for them. No need — yours is great! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Barbara Nixon
Georgia Southern University

For anyone developing or researching social media policies, this database contains links to more than 70, and you can filter by industry:

http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

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