Is it ethical to report on private social media posts?

After The Ryersonian broke the story on Unite Ryerson candidate Zidane Mohamed’s Facebook post applauding the killing of two New York City police officers, the ethics of reporting on Facebook posts from a private account has come into question.

Mohamed is running for public office within the Ryerson community, a position funded by our tuition fees and a position that affects us as students.

RyersonFacebookFEATUREDIMAGE

A Ryersonian reporter grabbed this screenshot Dec. 25, 2014 from Zidane Mohamed’s private Facebook profile. (Courtesy Facebook)

So if Ryerson has the right to penalize students based on private messages or posts on social media for the sake of the Ryerson community, should students not have the right to information that could affect that very community?

Related:

Facebook and other social media have privacy settings to protect your pictures and information. But anything posted online is vulnerable.

The reality is that something he posted online was shared with the Ryerson community and journalists are obligated to report on comments by public figures whether made in public or private.

Mohamed was given the chance to respond to the posts before the article was published. But he only apologized Monday night at the RSU election debate, saying: “I’d like to publicly apologize … I made a mistake.”

 

By Shannon Baldwin and Erin Petrow 

 

This story also appeared in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Feb 4, 2015.

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