The downside of social media for journalists is the risk of discovery it poses to source confidentiality.
This is of course unfortunate. Social media is very important, but ‘sharing’, ‘liking’ and ‘inviting’ can have unintended and at times exceedingly damaging consequences for those who expect their confidences and continued contact with reporters to be protected.
That is why, amid continued invitations to join with others on LinkedIn, it is necessary to repeat an earlier post that the author of Plane Talking has quit LinkedIn and will not respond to continued invitations to link his former network of LinkedIn contacts to those of other LinkedIn members.
It is a practice in some enterprises to enforce rules against unauthorised contact between employees and the media by filtering for matches any calls between company issued mobile telephones and even land lines and the known mobile and land line numbers of reporters.
This has been an issue for reporters for some time, and has destroyed the careers of some of those who contacted media. In the recent past, the insecurity of almost all email protocols has lead to widespread tracking of emails, including who reads them, on what computer, and where they may be forwarded, and so forth.
Even more recently, it has become possible through security failures in certain social media channels, as well as through unintended flaws in the protocols, for a variety of strategies to identify a reporter’s social media contacts or networks and have them checked for matches revealing prohibited contacts between employees and reporters. And some social media platforms actively and openly seek to know as much about you, and who you interact with, as possible, rendering them lethal by design to reporter confidentiality.
That is why LinkedIn is an intolerable security risk for reporters.
The old fashioned black book of handwritten contact details is back.