Since I criticized the Washington Post’s social media policy last year (before I even imagined returning to the Washington market), I guess I should comment on Mike Wise’s stupid Twitter stunt and the Post’s response.
In a nutshell: Wise knowingly published a false statement about a football player on Twitter, a hoax intended to show how people would pass along unverified information that they read on Twitter. The Post has suspended him for 30 days.
My headline when I wrote about the Post’s policy last year was “Washington Post needs social media conversation, not guidelines.” I am quite sure that regular, honest conversation about smart social media use would have been more likely (though never certain) to prevent foolish use of social media by staff members. Clearly, the guidelines did not (and, without question, Wise violated the guidelines).
- Even though people did repeat what Wise tweeted, he proved nothing about Twitter. If he had written the same thing in the Washington Post or on washingtonpost.com, it would have been quoted, because he was a respected, trusted voice on sports and because the Post is a trusted brand. Why shouldn’t the same people quote the same person or the same brand on Twitter?
- Would a 30-day suspension (a harsh punishment, to be sure) be enough if a Post staff member perpetrated a hoax in the Washington Post or on washingtonpost.com?