Is it ethical or unethical to tweet under someone else’s name?
Todd Defren, on his blog PR-Squared.com, addresses a specific instance of tweeting under false pretenses.
In this particular case our tweeter is a corporate executive who is renowned in his field. He is twitter-literate and his pages houses a pretty hefty fan base. He tweets regularly about the happenings in the company and beyond.
He is going to be an integral participant in a company trade-show. He will be very busy at the trade-show, but he still wants his twitter page to update his followers on what is happening at the conference.
Said corporate executive asks others to tweet under his name, as if they are him.
Is this ETHICAL or NOT?
This is a prime example of Ghost Blogging, which is when some one blogs (or tweets) under another person’s name. This can apply to anyone from government officials (like Hilary Clinton) to entertainers (like 50 cent). So what’s the big deal?
If you choose to participate in Ghost Blogging you risk losing your on-line credibility. When you write for followers you develop a type of relationship with them, and if you lose their trust then you lose their loyalty. Dave Fleet offers alternatives to this possibly ethical dilemma:
- Have more than one author in the first place. That way, if a situation arises when you’re unable to blog, it grants responsibility to the other author(s)
- Include a disclaimer! If you audience knows you’re not the one writing from the get-go, then there’s no room for a breach in trust
Barry Schwartz, a participant in Search Engine Roundtable thinks that sometimes Ghost Blogging is implied with certain people who tweet, such as President Obama himself. The difference to him though, is that it’s a common cynicism that we all have to know that it’s not really him tweeting or updating his status on Facebook.
Author of The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki, is an example of another professional who is guilty of using ghost-tweeters. Social Conversations addressed this issue in their article The Ghost Tweeting Debate & Measuring Social Media. They acknowledge that Guy Kawasaki is a very busy professional in his field, and that it should be common sense that he wouldn’t have the time to maintain and update his own Twitter on a daily basis. After all, it has to be difficult to be a famous author, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, and columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine, and still have time to manage a well followed Twitter page.
The issue with this particular situation is that he, like so many others before him, did not make it publically known that he was not updating his Twitter page, and it wasn’t until Dave Fleet accused him of this until this information was known.
So what do you guys think? Is it ever okay to blog as someone else?