The Associated Press is adopting a stringent social-networking policy for its employees, informing them to police their Facebook profiles “to make sure material posted by others doesn’t violate AP standards.”
The policy (.pdf) comes weeks after an AP reporter was reprimanded for posting a comment to his own Facebook profile criticizing the Sacramento-based newspaper chain McClatchy, whose stock has become nearly worthless after a string of costly acquisitions.
I am unaware of anything else like that,” Tony Winton, the guild’s president, said in a telephone interview. “Parts of the policy seem to be snuffing out peoples’ First Amendment rights of expression by a company that wraps itself in the First Amendment.”
Reporters for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, for example, have been told not to”friend” confidential sources, Editor & Publisher columnist Joe Strupp wrote this month. Reporters at the New York Times are urged to show “common-sense.” Other publishers, have no formal policy.
The AP’s new guidelines say employees should avoid including political affiliations in their profiles “and stay clear of making any postings that express political views or take stands on contentious issues.” Stating the obvious, Gazlay’s memo adds, “virtually nothing is truly private on the internet.”
But the most contentious element in the new policy, which the union also decried as “vague,” gives this instruction to employees using Facebook: “Monitor your profile page to make sure material posted by others doesn’t violate AP standards: any such material should be deleted.”
“That’s the part that makes us cringe,” Winton said, adding that the union is “reviewing it with legal counsel.”
Thinking about it, maybe they should ban AP from both networks. I was amazed that they had any “friends”.