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Over the summer I took a public relations ethics class at Kent State University. Ethics being the main focus of the course, the discussion focused around what students would do in certain situations. From this class I realized that the expectations of students are somewhat different from those of professionals.

As a student we have rules that are clearly defined. Cheating, plagiarism and duplicating work is strictly forbidden. However, upon graduation the clearly defined lines of right and wrong become a hazy blur. Without the strict supervision of college professors, young professionals are on their own to decide what is right and wrong.

Ghost1209716_writing Writing

One of the ethical issues that young professionals will be faced with is ghost writing. In politics ghost writing has become a common practice. Ghost writing is the practice of having someone else write in your name. The material that is published is usually credited to the politician, with no mention of the ghost writer.

This is a practice that has been used by politicians for years. Having speeches and other material written in their name has almost become routine. The ethical issue with ghost writing has always been about the transparency of the politician. Credit for writing skills, knowledge and hard work is attributed to politicians who have done no real work.

With the growth of social media over the past decade politicians and young professionals have been faced with a new ethical dilemma. This dilemma is whether standards for politicians should be lowered for social media content.

Young professionals with social media training are inevitability going to be faced with the issue of whether or not to write blogs on the behalf of politicians. This new social media trend is known as ghost blogging.

Ghost blogging

Ghost blogging is when a blog is run and managed by an anonymous author on behalf of a politician.

964273_trustThe problem with ghost blogging is the lack of transparency. Much like ghost writting ideas and reputations are formed that do not accurately portray the skills and abilities of politicians. If the public discovers that a politician has a ghostwriter, it can ruin the trust that constituents have for their government leaders.

Jason Falls of social media explorer was recently asked “What do you think about ghost blogging?” This is what he said:

“Transparency is key in social media. Ghost writers are the opposite. The biggest problem is getting found out. You run the risk of being disingenuous. It intimates that you have something to hide.”

The answer to the ethical issues of ghost writing and ghost blogging is disclosure. Being transparent about who is writing the content of speeches and social media will increase the trust that constituents have for their politicians.

Although you could get kicked out of school for writing someone else’s paper, it is inevitable that young professional are going to be faced with the decision to write anonymous social media content for politicians. With no written policies about ghost blogging and ghost writing young professional are left on their own to decide what they believe to be ethical.

The real question is left up to you. Is ghost writing ethical? Does ghost blogging have different ethical standards than ghost writing?