Don’t do anything through social media that you wouldn’t do in person. That’s the message from a panel of experts gathered by Griffith University recently, to debate the simmering topic of social media.

The expert panel included Professor Mark Pearson, Professor of Journalism and Social Media, School of Humanities, Griffith University, Ms Tracy Whitelaw from Social Ignition, Mr Brett Lee from INESS (Internet, Education & Safety Services) and Mr James Kliemt, the Senior Digital Media Officer from the Queensland Police Service.

One by one they took to the topic ‘Social Media: more harm than good?’ to pieces with clinical precision and served up a list of dilemmas for the unwary social media user.

“There are no experts in this area,” said Professor Pearson. “So my title is a little misleading. My area of expertise is around risk and regulation in both journalism and social media.”

Professor Mark Pearson - Griffith University

Prof. Mark Pearson, Professor of Journalism and Social Media, Griffith University

“What I would call for is ‘mindfulness’ when navigating online social networks,” He said. “To encourage or educate users to adhere to the social and behavioural codes that are inherent in our offline interactions.”

Tracy Whitelaw chose to rephrase the question. “Is communicating: more harm than good?”

“We have no choice!” Ms Whitelaw said in her gentle Scottish brogue. “Social media is here to stay. I would argue that communication is the goal and social media offers an opportunity that is more good than harm.”

“I work with the Brisbane City Council and we found that Facebook and Twitter were the most effective tools for communication in times of crisis,” she said.

Personal security and social media

As a security expert, Brett Lee got straight to the point for the audience at the Ship Inn at Griffith’s South Bank campus in Brisbane.

“Don’t let the programs control what we say and do,” he said. “But remember this…, if youwouldn’tdo something in the real world, then don’t do it online!”

With over 380,000 fans on Facebook, James Kliemt suggested that the Queensland Police Service had found social networking a very effective means for communicating with a wide audience; and quickly.

“Social media allows us to broadcast simultaneously to multiple audiences and far more effectively than our own media releases can do. It also offers us the chance to show the human side of what we do, to friends and fans, here in Queensland and across the world.

This event was hosted by the Griffith University Friends of the Librarynetwork.

Question time for the panel from Griffith debate on Social Media

Question time for the panel from Griffith’s debate on ‘Social Media: More harm than good?’