One could argue that the creators of LonelyGirl15 were being unethical in the misleading of their viewers by trying to present “Bree” as an actual character. Sure – you do the same in film (actors always want to portray a character convincingly), but in film you also disclose the fact that you have actors acting.
That’s why WOMMA (the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association) is working on a guide for the ethics of disclosure in social media. This is obviously a very new area that needs to be explored and WOMMA is taking this into account. Today there was an open conference call for those interested in the subject.
Yesterday however they released a draft of the paper. Here are the three main points:
- Honesty of Relationship: You say who you’re speaking for
- Honesty of Opinion: You say what you believe
- Honesty of Identity: You never obscure your identity
This is geared a bit toward the marketing and advertising sector of new media and for those purposes these three guidelines are fabulous. Even for more fictional areas you can use these (although Honesty of Identity might be difficult for a production such as LG15).
They reference Honesty of Identity as the most important as it builds trust between the viewer and creator. In marketing, if you have the trust of your viewer it’s much easier to convince them to buy your product. If you go the Exxon path and ignore the first and third guidelines you’ll always receive backlash.