AP Tells Staff Not to Offer Opinions on Facebook or Twitter

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We’ve all heard about taking your work home with you, but what happens when your work decides to visit you online and start telling you what you can and can’t say during your off-hours? To wit: the Associated Press has issued an internal memo telling staffers that they should be careful expressing personal opinions on Facebook or Twitter.

The memo, written by Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent, reads, in part, “Anyone who works for AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news,” warning that, “Failure to abide by these rules can lead to disciplinary action.”

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“Social networks, however we may configure our accounts or select our friends, should be considered a public forum,” it goes on to say, adding that “AP staffers should not make postings there that amount to personal opinions on contentious public issues.”

Kent refers staff to AP’s social media guidelines for further edification, where they may be surprised to learn that breaking news or referring to stories that the AP hasn’t published yet is also frowned upon.

But isn’t expressing opinions and linking to things the entire reason that social media as a whole exists? Clearly, this is a plan to decrease productivity within the AP by reducing its staff to playing FarmVille all the time, as it’ll be the only thing left for them to do on Facebook…

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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