The best social media policy ever written

Benjamin Franklin (center) at work on a printing press. Reproduction of a Charles Mills painting by the Detroit Publishing Company.There have been a lot of good guides and tips published on social media policy. There have also been a lot of good ideas put down about social media as well as some not so good ideas.

We’ve seen the good from The New York Times with its ‘Five guiding principles of social media’ and the Cabinet Office guidance for civil servants.

We’ve had more good from the BBC with its social media usage guidelines and The Guardian with its six tips for social media engagement. And then there has been the bad.

Leading that list is Sky News going anti-social media with its bans on retweeting others, AP advises staff not to retweet in social media guidelines and London Olympics volunteers told not to share on social media and the ban on Olympic athletes thanking their sponsors on Twitter.

Much good and some bad, but I saw this the other day via @sgevans at Reuters and thought that it distilled very well the essence of what is good and bad.

Its from Benjamin Franklin, the American author, printer, politician and  inventor (bifocals), and might have been was written around 250 years ago, but remains as relevant today in this digital age as it did when he first wrote it.

He wrote it not only as a writer himself, but someone who distributed words as a printer and publisher having set up the a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette in 1728.

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

In a week where we have had a teenager arrested for tweeting abusively at British Olympic diver Tom Daley and a Welsh footballer suspended after another  abusive message was sent to Daley. Just prior to that we had the a racist tweet from a Greek athlete resulting in her being expelled and a Swiss footballer Michel Morganella sent home after insulting South Koreans on Twitter after a game.

With all that in mind Franklin’s advice remains as relevant as ever.

And if that doesn’t work for you Franklin did also apparently write that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Is there any arguing with that?

  • Alain Chesnais

    The Benjamin Franklin quote appears to be a misquote. According to an article posted at the actual quote referred to wine and was “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

  • Guy Bailey

    The best social media policy can be distilled into the last line of the BBC’s advice: “Don’t do anything stupid”.


  • Matt Reilly

    Or maybe just based on Google’s motto:

    Don’t be evil.

  • George Nimeh

    That nice quote from Ben Franklin is sadly un-Tweetable. It’s a shame no one told him about the 140 character rule …

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  • Manchester PR agency


    Surely it is a little common sense, reference to what you would say in any medium and a tiny bit of caution as a wrong word can ripple across the world before you realise you have something to regret and so the ability to count to 10 is advisable?

    It is a lot of fuss of so little & potentially so much


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