Use of Social Media: Principles
Social media can be powerful and important communication tools. They can be useful for gathering information as well as disseminating it.
We are consistent in our standards, no matter what the platform, in disseminating information. If we would not put the information on air or on our own website, we would not use social media to report that information.
When using social media as an information-gathering tool, we apply the same standards as those for any other source of newsgathering.
We bring these principles and values to bear in our personal use of social media as well.
Verification of User Generated Content (UGC) in News Stories
CBC is responsible for all content on its news sites. This policy covers text, image, video or audio contributions from the public which are incorporated into news coverage on any platform.
Material that originates from a non-CBC source is clearly identified as such.
Before text, image, video or audio is published, we try to verify the information with a second source. There may be times when a third source is required.
We are clear with the audience about what we do and do not know. This could include explaining the user’s relationship to the events.
In exceptional circumstances, it may be difficult to authenticate a contribution. There may be times where because of timeliness or as a matter of public interest, we decide to publish without full verification.The decision to publish material without full authentication must be referred to the Managing Editor. We should disclose such decisions to the audience.
Concealment of Identity as a Journalist
We generally practice our reporting openly. However, there are times, while investigating a matter of public interest, a reporter will conceal his or her occupation and true purpose and pose as an ordinary citizen. We will consult with the Director before doing so. Our overriding priority will be sound public service journalism. Whatever the means used to contact a source without identifying oneself as a journalist (in person, by telephone, by email, through social networks), we will attempt to confront the source and take his or her reaction into account in our report.
When the investigation bears on illegal or antisocial behaviour or abuse of trust and the gathering of information of public interest, the journalist may need to infiltrate an organization to get first-hand information. We take into account possible safety issues for the journalist involved.
Before resorting to infiltration we will ensure that the following conditions are met:
- We have a credible source that gives us reason to believe a subject of our reporting is behaving illegally or antisocially or abusing a trust;
- An open approach would have little chance of obtaining the information sought or of confirming the behaviour we seek to report;
- Infiltration allows us to gather the best evidence of the behaviour in question;
Any plan to infiltrate will be submitted to the Director for prior approval.
Children and Social Media
We take care to protect the privacy of children involved in the use of social media.
We are especially careful to assess the impacts when dealing with those aged 15 and under, who may lack the judgment required to consent to interviews and publication of their information.
We avoid providing information that could identify them because this puts them at risk from online predators.
When contacting children through their Facebook or other public sites, we follow the standards set for children’s participation applicable to all other platforms.
Personal Use of Social Media
When we use social media, we should remember two of our principles: impartiality and integrity. We recognize there are specific challenges raised because social media create an intersection of personal and professional roles and identities.
With that in mind, our journalists - including casual and temporary staff as well as interns - should consider the following:
- In our social media activity, we are mindful of our professional association with CBC.
- We maintain professional decorum and strive to do nothing that could bring CBC into disrepute.
- We understand that what we say and do on social media can reflect on ourselves, our colleagues and on CBC as a whole.
- In particular, the expression of personal opinions on controversial subjects, including politics, can undermine the credibility of CBC journalism and erode the trust of our audience. Therefore, we refrain from expressing such opinions in profiles or posts for any account which identifies or associates us with CBC/Radio-Canada. The question we should ask ourselves: if someone saw the content of this account, could they determine that we work at CBC?
- We recognize that nothing we express on the Internet can be considered truly private. So we understand that comments on accounts we intend to be exclusively personal and private can damage our personal credibility, and that of CBC as a whole.
- We consider perceptions created when we share, republish, link, or interact with other people’s content. We strive to avoid having such actions appear to be endorsements. When appropriate and possible, we provide context.
- We understand that should our social media activity create a perception of bias, it would influence decisions editorial leaders make on who can cover certain stories.
Interaction with the AudienceCBC endeavours to engage with Canadians, especially on digital platforms. We promote civil discourse. When that is not being observed, our employees may consult with their supervisor about discontinuing interactions with certain individuals. When possible, we do so without unduly restricting access to our journalism.