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The most recent SE incident (as well as several others earlier) was largely inflated by the interaction of SE/SE Staff with the press and some social media interactions (tweets/re-tweets, in particular) done by individual SE employees.

I am very glad that a new no comment policy was introduced (however, not expressed formally anywhere yet as of Oct 30, 2019) recently.

Maybe, the voluntary or mandatory "Views Expressed" social media disclaimer policy for SE Staff can be introduced as well. The particular phrasing can be left open, something along the lines:

All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.

(taken from Teamsfeed.com and Douglas E. Rice (no longer works))

Reasoning:

  • SE is now a corporation. It looks like a corporation. It behaves like a corporation. Maybe, it's time to treat it like a corporation.
  • The Press would not be able (at least, they would be inaccurate) to take statements from personal social media account and easily integrate it into the story.
  • Theoretically, it can minimize the damage that can be done (for a good or bad reason) to an individual in a conflict with SE as a company or some particular SE employee.
  • It makes the separation between individual SE employees and SE company more visible.

Such policy, in theory, can contribute to the protection of users, SE employees, and SE company. So, it's not targeting the benefits of one particular group.

This question had a bounty worth +50 reputation from Anton Menshov that ended 11 hours ago. Grace period ends in 12 hours

This question has not received enough attention.

  • 32
    Ignoring the fact that they're probably more unlikely than ever to take advice on internal policy from us... are these disclaimers not just mainly word games? High-level employees' making or retweeting statements on their private accounts will never be viewed as entirely separate from their work if what they tweet is relevant to their work (which e.g. Sara's incendiary retweet clearly was). Also, citation needed re the press thing. Hard to see how a disclaimer would ever stop a journalist from using a quote if it's relevant. – Pekka supports GoFundMonica Oct 30 at 14:51
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    Frankly, the problem is not that someone has certain views, but a lack of trust that they will set aside their personal biases and treat people they disagree with fairly. If you don’t believe someone will be fair, it doesn’t matter how much they say they aren’t representing company policy when they’re in a position of power. – ColleenV Oct 30 at 14:59
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    I think that the approach here largely depends on the role of the employee. When some backend-dev tweets his opinion about whether a comment should be phrased using "theirs" rather than "his", or doesn't like reflexive statements, then this is one thing. When a person with the role of "Director of something public" tweets something, the weight of this opinion is much higher, because there's the (implicit and often technically justified) assumption that this tweet does imply an endorsement or a policy, and theperson and the role are somehow "representative". – Marco13 Oct 30 at 15:22
  • @PekkasupportsGoFundMonica to some extent, it is certainly a word game. Like a lot of things in the corporate world. I personally see a value in such a disclaimer even though it is not even close to be a silver bullet. It's a small thing, which can remind about the separation of personal and corporate points of view, and makes it this separation explicit and on the paper. – Anton Menshov Oct 30 at 17:21
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    @ColleenV to some degree, it matters to me. And might serve as a reminder to "them". I just sat yesterday and thought about immediate actions that can be done to improve my life as a user and moderator at SE. This is one of them (wrt to the recent incident and me suspending the moderator activity). – Anton Menshov Oct 30 at 17:26
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Most organizations with "public facing" employees have some pretty clear guidelines that personal social medial accounts should be separate from ones that are used in an official capacity. This protects the employee (their account is not co-opted) as well as the employer since there is a "firewall" between the stances.

At a most basic level, a lot of people have the following in their profile:

RT != endorsement

However, for major organizations it's also not unreasonable to have an account managed by the company (ex, @StackExchangeCEO) or it's clear that their is an association (ex., WalterCronkiteCBS). Practically writing, Stack Exchange should have a similar in place to allow for more than just the @StackExchange account.

  • 34
    "RT != endorsement" That's like saying "I only wave this flag, the guy that stitched it together is responsible for the symbols on it". It's obviously BS. Whoever waves the flag is responsible for the symbols on it. If one doesn't feel like endorsing the symbols on the flag, they should not fly it. – nvoigt Oct 30 at 16:40
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    There is no profile disclaimer that could possibly change how the Twitter software works. They determine something is worthy of your attention by measuring interaction. If you wanted to redistribute without endorsing, you would have to share a screenshot without attribution. – anx Oct 30 at 18:11
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    Extremly visible employees have been fired for their comments in a tweet at other companies, one such example an ex-employee Microsoft, who suggested they didn't have to purchase a Xbox 1 since they were going to be on a boat/sub (which does not have internet access all the time). The point of my comment is that, a company's endorsement will be implied, depending on the person's position. In my example they were one of the top individuals in the Xbox division at Microsoft. Microsoft's actions made it clear they did not endorse the viewpoints of the employee but only after it became a story. – Ramhound Oct 30 at 19:38
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    You don't retweet a tweet you disagree with. So yes, a retweet is endorsement, no matter what you add to your profile. – Cerbrus Nov 7 at 8:20
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    @Cerbrus I think this was very well addressed by Robert Harvey in comments under discussion about particular tweet: 'That must be mighty convenient: acknowledging tacit approval for a tweet by retweeting it, while still being able to say "Hey, it wasn't my tweet." In other news, the straw man introduced in that tweet is large enough to stop a Mac truck.' – gnat Nov 7 at 8:52
  • @nvoigt I disagree to a certain extent. In that case you could view a retweet as "I don't necessarily agree with what this person is saying, but I do recognize it as a legitimate viewpoint/interpretation". Just because I retweet something doesn't mean I'm willing to fight for it – Jeeter Nov 8 at 0:29
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I mostly think there should be clarity. There's really two possibilities:

  1. Employees speak on behalf of SE only.
  2. Employees speak their own words only.

And SE needs to make a decision which it is. Until they do, IMO 1) counts perfectly fine.

And I also think they should give retro-active clarity about older (re)tweets, and whether they are on personal title or not.

I don't really care much which way they decide. As long as they pick one and stick with it.

  • 1
    People high up the ranks of a company should know that (1) is what is expected from them. For any other employee (2) should be a right. – dfhwze Nov 7 at 8:50
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    And I think that SE should make clear which of the two applies to which employee. There's a reason there's only one bolded word in my answer. – Gloweye Nov 7 at 8:52

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