Why I Trust Michael Slezak

It is very hard for me to trust someone I’ve never met. For me to trust someone on social media means that many of the characteristics involved in trust–eye contact, body language and tone of voice to name a few–cannot be analyzed. All I have to go on is the social media content being presented to me and how others react to it. So when I was asked who I trust on social media, one name popped in my head. Michael Slezak is a name I’ve mentioned several times in other blog posts as one of my favorite entertainment journalists/critics. I may not always agree with his opinions, but I always respect them.

I follow Michael Slezak on Twitter, his main social media channel of choice. I just found out that he has a personal Facebook profile of which I’m scared to send a friend request because I think he’ll either deny it or ignore it because he doesn’t know me. That’s a dream I don’t need crushed right now. Most of his Facebook posts are public though, so I can view them without needing to be friends with him.

I respect Slezak as a journalist because he is always honest and never afraid to speak his mind. This bleeds into the content he posts on social media as well. He will shamelessly plug certain contestants on American Idol or The Voice with no apologies. If you’ve watched even one episode of his weekly web series Reality Check on TVLine (I’ve watched almost all of them), you know that Slezak actually has plenty of technical musical skills. So even though his favorites are not always my favorites, he backs up his choices with proof of their skills. He certainly has the authority on social media to make people listen to what he has to say. He is one of those people that can get away with self-promotion on social media because he is always so accurate.

His helpfulness on social media may be a little unconventional, but it’s there. He doesn’t respond to every comment on Facebook or every tweet on Twitter, but when he does, it makes an impact. He is constantly sharing other people’s content or retweeting things sent to him by fans or co-workers, showing that he’s willing to promote others as well as himself. He has shared personal details of his life, like being a huge fan of horse racing and being an openly gay married man. Anyone who is as honest as he is in his work and his personal life has earned my trust on social media.

I don’t necessarily think Michael Slezak gains anything from having my trust on social media right now. He has almost 34,000 other people that trust him on Twitter and Facebook as well, so I doubt it would make much of a difference if I trusted him or not. However, when I make my mark in the music criticism and social media world, he will be listed as one of my biggest influences. What Slezak could gain from having my trust is career longevity. I could bring a new audience to him that he currently doesn’t have. As long as he keeps producing top-notch social media content, he can have as long a career as he wants and he will always have my trust.

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Is There A Formula For Trust?

In my mind there’s a difference between trusting someone on social media and trusting someone in person. Social media takes away body language, vocal inflections and eye contact, which can be key factors in knowing whether to trust someone. It takes a long time for me to trust someone on social media.

When I heard about Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula on social media I was skeptical at first. Trust isn’t something I think can be calculated, it’s just a gut feeling. Even if a person lets you down or comes through for you a certain number of times, I don’t think anyone can say with absolute certainty whether they will or won’t the next time. A formula in a math problem is supposed to give you a definitive answer and with trust I don’t think there is a definitive answer. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes and we sometimes break the trust of people we care about.

However, I believe the elements of Steve Rayson’s Trust Formula are fair requirements for trusting someone on social media. Everyone I trust on social media is knowledgeable about their field. Entertainment Weekly, E! and Rolling Stone are all extremely knowledgeable about the entertainment industry and that’s why I follow them on social media. These brands are helpful in providing me news I can’t get anywhere else and archiving material so I can look it up later. These brands are friendly and inviting too. I have never seen these brands get into disagreements on social media and they’re always willing to help. Nothing about their social media demeanor would make me stop following them. Each of these brands is consistent and reliable in bringing me accurate news or enjoyable critiques of my favorites television shows or music. I know if I go on Facebook or Twitter I am going to find at least one post from each of these brands every single day and most of the time it is content I want to read.

Now for the most contentious part of this formula, self-promotion. I think self-promotion gets a bad reputation on social media. I believe that posts on social media need a purpose and self-promotion is an important purpose. I think well-established brands like Entertainment Weekly and E! can afford to self-promote more than small brands because loyal fans will tolerate it. Having self-promotion be the denominator in this formula is what loses its credibility with me. Some brands have more self-promotion than others, but I don’t think we should base how much we trust them on that.

If you want to put a value on how much you trust someone, I think the Trust Formula is fine the way it is. Nothing needs to be added or subtracted from it. If I was forced to follow a formula for trust, I think this one works fine. I don’t believe trust needs a formula, so it would be difficult to come up with one better than this. But again, If I were creating a formula, mine wouldn’t be nearly as reliant on self-promotion as this one is.

LinkedIn’s User Agreement

In this week’s reading reaction we looked at the Terms and Conditions of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which were also briefly covered in lecture. For this week’s assignment I decided to tackle the Terms of Service for another social media channel that could be very valuable to me in the future, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is quickly growing to be my second favorite channel, behind Facebook, so I decided to analyze what you can and cannot do on the channel.

Some aspects of LinkedIn’s User Agreement are confusing and contradictory. Firstly, I take LinkedIn very seriously as a digital resume and an opportunity for working professionals to showcase themselves to potential employers. If every member of LinkedIn is supposed to be a working professional, why is the minimum age in the United States only thirteen? At thirteen years old a person is barely legal to work, so I find it hard to believe that they should be allowed to have a LinkedIn profile. If the majority of thirteen year olds are not working, then they’re either not on LinkedIn or they are using a profile for something they shouldn’t be using it for. It is my feeling that LinkedIn should raise the minimum age of users to at least fifteen or sixteen, in order to prevent the creation of fake profiles or inappropriate content, which is also part of the User Agreement.

Like with Facebook, the user owns the content they publish, but LinkedIn has the right to use content published on the channel at their discretion without notifying the user. I don’t like that part of the agreement, but I understand that LinkedIn is a business. When a song I wrote was chosen to be recorded by an independent record label, the contract said I retained all rights to the song, but they had the discretion to change the arrangement or lyrics as they saw fit to increase the quality of the song. With that, I am also allowed to sell the song to another label if I choose, a label that could keep everything the way it was originally intended. I may not like every detail in the agreement, but I don’t think I can make an argument that there’s anything unethical about that detail.

As is the case with Twitter, LinkedIn does not monitor all content and it is up to the users to report anything illegal or unethical. However, it says that LinkedIn has the right to limit or prohibit contact between LinkedIn members or limit the amount of connections a person has. If a LinkedIn user is “solely responsible for your interactions with other Members,” then how is LinkedIn allowed to limit interactions? If an interaction has been reported and LinkedIn revokes your right to that interaction after the fact, that should be made more clear in the User Agreement.

As of right now, those are the ethical dilemmas of LinkedIn I object to. If they could reword some of the entries to make them more understandable, many of their ethical issues would be resolved. I’m looking forward to seeing how they revise this agreement in the future.

 

Reading The Fine Print

Terms and conditions are a hotly debated issue in the realm of social media. Do people read them? If so, do they do everything they can to follow them? I can tell you that I have not read the terms and conditions for anything since I was probably in middle school over a decade ago. In fact, I think the last terms and conditions document I read may have been when I downloaded iTunes for the first time. If I were to make an assumption, I would say that if people wanted to read the terms and conditions, they maybe started the document and gave up when they realized it would take far too long to read. With absolutely no data to back it up, I would venture a guess that less than five percent of people read the terms and conditions.

Facebook is my main channel of choice for most of my personal and professional social media use. After reading their terms and conditions, or Statement of Rights and Responsibilities as they like to call it, there would be some things I would either take out or word differently. Under the “Sharing Your Content and Information” section, I was confused by the ability to use IP content and how intellectual property rights are involved. I realize this may fall under legal instead of ethical, but if there are intellectual property rights, why can Facebook use any photos or videos that I as a user would post? What I might do if I were to revise the terms and conditions is to either add a short blurb or a link to the definition of intellectual property rights. That way ethically Facebook can fully explain how they are allowed to use the photos or videos. If the users don’t want to read it, that’s their own fault. That would be in keeping with the language of the document, placing the responsibility on the user for agreeing and living up to the terms.

In the “Safety” section, I think they should either come down harder on offenders of logging into another user’s account or they should take it out of the document. Many of us in the program have at one time or another logged in for a friend who willingly gave you their login information. Clearly this doesn’t always work the way they want it to, but people only give out that information to people they really trust. Finally, the last point I want to mention is about creating multiple accounts, which is under the “Registration and Account Security” section. I know many college friends who have one account for personal use while the other is for business. I have yet to hear about someone being reprimanded for having multiple accounts, so I think Facebook is being ethically misleading  by having that rule in the document if they aren’t going to enforce it.

Since I don’t use Twitter or Instagram nearly as often as I do Facebook, I will save my analysis of their Terms and Conditions for my weekly reading reaction. What do you think of my alterations to Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities? Let me know in the comments.

Ethical Dilemma of Facebook

I have had a fairly substantial background with the idea of ethics as it relates to journalism. In my time studying journalism at the University of Arizona, I may have only had one formal ethics class, but the idea has been weaved through many of my other classes as well as my personal work. The part of the dictionary definitions of ethics and morals that strikes a nerve with me is the idea that morals are concerned with an entire society and not necessarily an individual. There should be certain universal morals of course, but the idea that an entire society dictates what’s right or wrong for one person to do irks me a little bit. I like the idea of moral dilemmas, because the “right decision” for one person within that society might not be the “right decision” for a different person in that society.

With regard to this week’s main discussion on whether it is ethical to send a friend request on Facebook to a murder suspect’s friend if you are a journalist, I would say yes it is. Means of contact are growing and I think as long as it is ethical to contact the murder suspect’s friend through phone or email, then social media should be OK as well. Speaking to the friend of the murder suspect has journalistic value, as lecture states, and as long as that source agrees to talk to you everything is fine in my book.

The video brought up the idea of whether or not the journalist should hide their identity as a journalist when sending the friend request. This is something I would never do because I find it unethical, however I understand and respect the arguments to the contrary. Certain situations like uncovering potential crimes would deem it necessary that a journalist hide their identity to obtain the story and I am OK with that. If there is a potential threat to any person and the only way to uncover that threat is by going undercover or concealing your identity, by all means do it. If this murder suspect has the potential to hurt other people and talking to the friend while your identity is concealed is the only way to help prevent future crimes, do it. But if the journalist is only interested in the story and not the well-being of the audience or the source, that to me in unethical.

However, nowadays many posts that appear on someone’s Facebook profile are public because they don’t take the time to make every post private or don’t fully comprehend the privacy terms and conditions. If you can find public information without having to send a friend request to the suspect’s friend, or if the request you do send is denied, that is also within the realm of things that are ethical to do in order to obtain the story.

I would take utilitarian approach when weighing the pros and cons of sending a friend request to the murder suspect’s friend. My duty would lie with the audience who may be affected by this story, which includes the source, the murder suspect’s family and the murder victim’s family. I think the model of motivation, likely effects and where your duty lies is acceptable in this as well as most cases of an ethical dilemma. I may not always use the same order when examining an ethical dilemma, but each aspect almost always comes into play.

Introduction

Hi everyone, my name is Steven Schiraldi. You can call me the Social Roller if you’d like. I’ve gone by numerous nicknames because of my disability in the past, so I’ll assign one to myself and embrace it. I am 24 years old and graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. I wasted almost no time jumping into this Master’s of Social Media program in order to gain necessary skills to support and promote myself as a freelance journalist if necessary (or at least that’s how it started out). I love everything about the entertainment industry with a particular passion for music. I love most genres but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I love country music. I am hoping to one day be able to use my current and future skills in journalism and social media to become a well-known music critic, either on my own or through other publications.

I currently live in Tucson, Arizona with my parents and we will most likely be making a move to Nevada this summer, just outside of Las Vegas. I grew up in Mahopac, New York, which is about an hour north of New York City, and lived there until I was 18 and became a freshman at UA. I have a dog Dacota, a black lab/German Shepherd mix and you can see her as the cover photo on my Facebook profile. My hobbies include watching television, interacting on social media and going to karaoke at least once a year. The other bit of information I alluded to earlier was my disability. I have Spina Bifida and have been in a wheelchair my entire life. I have not had an easy medical history to give you the understatement of the decade. Even though I call myself the Social Roller on this blog, I am not defined by my disability by any stretch of the imagination.

Now that I’ve divulged some of my personal attributes I will tell you what I currently am doing professionally. I have been working as a social media manager and personal assistant for Justin Klosky, the founder of O.C.D. Experience since December 2013. Many of my classmates are aware of Justin and his company because some of us did our final projects for Introduction to Multimedia Communication creating a social media plan for his book. He hired me and our professor Jaclyn Rhoads shortly after we completed our projects. I’m having a great time with the company and trying to juggle two jobs with school is always a fun challenge! If you haven’t connected with me on social media already, all of my channels should be linked on the right. I look forward to another great semester!