We’re requiring students to include key words and a Tweet for every story they write in class. Two interesting ethical issues came up in my labs. First, students wanted to know what their goal is for the key words — are they supposed to use words that accurately reflect the story or should they sex their tags up to grab the most hits?
How do we balance those goals, they asked. What’s the ethical decision, they wondered. If you can work ‘Paris Hilton’ into your key words, even if it requires the most bizarre stretch, do you go for it to increase your SEO? Is that wrong? Don’t you want viewers/readers? If using certain words gets readers, why not? But what about credibility, accuracy and truth? But does your truth count if nobody reads its?
The second issue that arose was students’ tendency to accidentally libel subjects in their Tweets. In their actual stories they’d correctly write “arrested in connection with” or “allegedly such and such” but their Tweets were full-on convictions of nearly everyone.
“Allegedly” is just too many characters to fit in a Tweet’s 140-character limit.
Both issues sparked lively class discussions and raised all the right ethical and practical questions.