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This week, the Associated Press released an updated version of its Social Media Guidelines for AP Employees. The seven page document covers everything from the types of accounts Associated Press employees can create to what they can publish and who they can friend and follow.Associated Press employees, particularly journalists, have a responsibility to report unbiased, fact-based news, so many of the requirements in the new Social Media Guidelines for AP Employees are included to ensure the general public doesn't confuse fact with opinion.For that reason, there are some requirements that may not apply to other online publishers who publish editorial content and whose reputations are based on opinion. However, the guidelines document is worth a perusal for any content publisher. It can serve as a great template for Authoritative Content publishers to create their own social media guidelines.For example, the Associated Press requires that employees identify their affiliation with the AP company and brand if they use their social media accounts for both personal and professional purposes. Employees are also expected to understand that anything they publish online could be seen by the general public and must not damage the AP reputation. In other words, employees must tweet, post, and share with great care.The Associated Press also instructs its employees to link to AP content whenever possible and never publish a story or AP content directly to a social media account. Instead, employees should link to the original AP story from their social media accounts. The purpose of this requirement is to increase engagement and conversation on AP stories at the original source, not via individual social media accounts.Furthermore, AP employees are encouraged to link to AP content, but they're also allowed to link to content from other media organizations as long as the content published by those organizations is factual and appropriate.Associated Press employees are expected to publish new content and stories via the AP first -- before they talk about them on social media or publish anything about those stories anywhere else. Any content that the Associated Press chooses not to publish after the employee submits it, may be published and shared as the employee chooses (within all other social media guidelines, of course). Finally, once a story runs on the AP site, employees can share a sampling of it on their personal websites and blogs, but it must be clearly labeled as AP content.You can follow the link above to read the complete Social Media Guidelines for AP Employees to determine if there are any rules that might be useful for your team to follow.Image: Jason Howie

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