5 Rules Of Ethics In Social Media

I'm in the middle of a move right now, so the last few days have been full of selling everything from my three bedroom house, packing boxes to ship to NYC, working overtime, and making sure to get all of the logistics down from moving from rural Wisconsin back to the big city.  Suffice it to say, I am exhausted and running on limited patience. So-- you can imagine my shock when this floated through my Twitter feed yesterday afternoon:


Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is MY journal. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I consistently journal at my age. I'm a writer at heart --> always have been, always will be.

My initial thought was that someone had bought my blank journal the movers must have taken to Goodwill, and they were sincerely thanking me for it. Then, I saw the gold 'Newport Beach' writing on the front, and realized it was my most recent journal, with real-life, really personal, entries in it. Then, I saw the hashtag --> #TeamScott --> Scott happens to be someone written about in that journal. That's when I started freaking out.

I called Goodwill, told them to hold the journal until tomorrow, and asked them not to get the two who Tweeted it in trouble. However, after I slept on it, I noticed that the two in the photo are laughing with my journal in hand, and that Tweet is one of two from the Twitter account they used, AND that Twitter account only has two followers (as of today). Sketch.

I thought it was important for Goodwill to know about this breech of privacy, and had this conversation with them:


I'm sorry --> REALLY?! Your employees posted someone else's journal online, while at work, while wearing YOUR company's t-shirts, and you are just going to have me contact local or regional?! No response would have been better, as my community kindly let them know:



Now some of you might argue the two employees are genuine with their thanks, and some might argue they are pulling my leg. Regardless, here is what they should have done: Follow me on Twitter and ask me to follow them back and DM them because they found something of mine, or send their inspirational message privately (if genuine).

Since they did not do that, Goodwill should have given a more genuine apology and offered to handle it themselves instead of putting work back on to me. It seems that they can easily Tweet someone's personal details, but they can't Tweet help to clean up their own mess?

Just around this lovely scenario, here are 5 rules to make sure you are staying ethical with your social networks:

1. Get permission --> If you want to share someone's property or information, ask them first. 2. Keep emotionally sensitive feedback private, unless you know the other party and their comfort level with the information being public. 3. Work is still work, even on your personal profile --> Draw the line between your work social media and your personal social media. Don't share sensitive information from your work on your personal social network. 4. Ask if you're okay with the entire world seeing what you are posting on social (seems like common sense). 5. If you have ANY questions at all on the sensitive nature of content, DON'T SHARE IT.


What are your thoughts on this? Comment below.

Update: After publishing this post, Goodwill reached back out and had this conversation. There was no apology or recognition of wrongdoing when I picked up the journal from my local Goodwill store.


Update #2: Received this welcomed response from another Goodwill handle.


Update #3: Received apology from original Tweeter.


- Marji J. Sherman

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