Facebook and Twitter: It’s time to look after your users


I love broadcasting. I have been a radio broadcaster for nearly 8 years and it has been one of the most empowering and enriching experiences of my life. Broadcasting is something that I take as a great privilege and opportunity and it’s also something I treat with a great deal of responsibility.

One of the hardest broadcasts I’ve ever had to produce was following the loss of a good friend to suicide. At the time, I was producing and presenting a current affairs program and I didn’t know how to talk about the big “taboo” of suicide. I figured that out of the tragedy, the best thing I could do was to have a conversation about the issue. For the program, I spoke to mental health experts and did my best to get some information out there and hopefully reduce some of the stigma surrounding mental health.

When you start as a broadcaster (particularly in talks/current affairs) one of the first things you are taught is in regards to the health of your audience. If you are going to broadcast something which will potentially upset or trigger your audience you must provide appropriate warning and support them to access services if they need to do so. This has long been the ethical standard for the media.

When I started broadcasting, social media was in its infancy, but is now arguably the place that the community turns to in times of need. In 2012, social media was one of the key places the community turned to to grieve and process the loss of Melbourne woman Jillian Meagher and most recently for the world to come to terms with the death of Jacintha Saldanha one of the nurses involved in the royal phone call prank. Events like these lead to a significant level of discussion on social media and sadly can often be a trigger for those struggling with the issues involved.

It’s the responsibility of broadcasters to provide referral to mental health services when topics of high risk are discussed, so why isn’t this the case with social media? Following the trending of a number of potential mental health triggers this weekend it occurred to me that our major social media services have very infrastructure in place to support their communities.

Facebook and Twitter: It’s time to look after your users.

I’m calling for Facebook and Twitter to provide in-feed referral information for mental health services when topics of high trigger potential are trending. If other media and communication platforms do this as an ethical standard, then so should our major social networks. Both these companies have a corporate and social responsibility to support the health of their users.

You can help by signing this petition – and letting Facebook and Twitter know that they should take responsibility for the health of the communities they curate and foster.

– Jonathan Brown

Jonathan is the Creative Director of We Matter Media. You can follow him @JB_AU

If you need support you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Lifeline.org.au, Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 or Kidshelpline.com.au or Beyondblue.org.au


Image sourced under CC from here.