10 March 2008

PCC Investigates Social Networking Content

The use of content uploaded to social networking websites is to be examined by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

Director Tim Toulmin revealed to BBC Radio 4 that the body has commissioned research to investigate how newspapers use personal information uploaded onto sites such as Facebook and Bebo.

The PCC will also carry out interviews with members of the public to find out their awareness of how content on such sites could be used by the press, reports Journalism.co.uk.

Toulmin said: “We are aware that people are putting up stuff to these sites with the expectation that it is going to a limited number of people, but if they become the subject of a news story it may end up being published to a great deal more people than they initially envisaged.”

He added: “That’s not to say that newspapers and magazines are not entitled to take some of the information that is out there that people have volunteered, but it does mean that people should be aware that the consequences of uploading personal information online might be not quite what they had considered.”

There have been a number of high-profile stories this year where reporters’ use of information from social networking websites has been called into question.

Last month the Guardian published an article about the press’s use of personal content from social websites in its coverage of a spate of suicides in south Wales.

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