Posts Tagged ‘Transparency’

Transparency in Social Media

How transparent are you? People are watching.*

With the advent of many different social media tools, transparency is becoming less of an option and more of a requirement for all companies. In the 21st century, no company is untouchable or off-limits, and any company trying to hide some aspect of their reality will quickly be called out. On the blog Torben Rick Writes, we see how organizations like Greenpeace target companies for the less desirable aspects of their company profile. When it comes to contentious debates on social media, it is key for all organizations to be transparent about their motivation, their goals, and who is backing them (financially, politically, etc). There is no shortage of whistle-blowers, and no shortage of people ready to pounce when a secret is uncovered. I am sure that while the US Army would love many of the videos that have gone viral on YouTube, they are not able to contain those kinds of secrets. (see Daily Mail, BBC) We expect now, in this age of information, to know exactly what the army is going to do with this information, and it is no longer possible for them to keep it under wraps and deal with it quietly.

We no longer live in a world where people really believe that companies like Shell, Ford and GM are family-friendly companies that are just looking out for Average Joe, or that the army contains only good-hearted people out to serve their country (not in any way trying to degrade those that are – it is the few who will give a bad name to the majority). Large, long-standing companies and institutions have often been slow to catch on to the advent of information sharing. For instance, in the current Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline discussion, Prime Minister Harper, and the Conservative government, think that they can make Canadians believe that any opposition to the pipeline is fueled simply by foreign interests, and that Canadians really all are in favour of it. But it takes all of 2 seconds on Twitter to discover a myriad of articles showing exactly how Canadians are fighting the pipeline, and it doesn’t take much longer to figure out that foreign interests have a pretty strong hold on the pro-pipeline side. I won’t pretend to offer any original comment on this, because so many (David Suzuki Foundation, Vancouver Observer) have said it much more eloquently and effectively than I could.

Why have politicians and corporations been so slow to catch on that in the age of digital information sharing, they can no longer tell their audiences flat-out lies, and expect us all to believe it? Transparency must not only be a standard that we expect from non-profit organizations, which have been forced to be accountable to the charitable public for a long time, but must also be expected from private corporations and public figures.

It’s not about laws. It’s about the reality that if you are not transparent all on your own, social media is going to catch up with you and force it on you.

*Photo credit: andercismo, Flickr Creative Commons