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Social Media Rules Of The Road On Thanksgiving Day

For those who have been with NPR on other Thanksgiving Days, this guidance should be familiar. But just in case:

You will be tempted to tweet, post to Facebook and otherwise express yourself on social media. There's probably a lot you'd like to say about that offensive joke Uncle Jim just told or the dessert that cousin Pat obviously bought and tried to pass off as homemade.

But please bear in mind that the coming days are as important as any to protecting NPR's reputation as a trusted news source.

For instance, how have you verified that the pie came from 7-Eleven, not Pat's kitchen? Did you see a receipt? Who's your source on that pie's provenance? Are they on-the-record? What is Pat's response to the allegation? (And be sure to write "7-Eleven," not "7-11," or you'll need to post a correction.)

Also, are you positive he goes by Jim, not James? Which side of the family is he from? Who laughed and who didn't? Readers want to know.

Meanwhile, we don't take sides on controversial issues. For example: you may be revolted by the sight of marshmallows on sweet potatoes. But if you weigh in on that you're creating the impression that NPR takes a position on the subject. The same goes for stuffing or not stuffing the bird. Or cranberry jelly vs. relish. Stay neutral.

Watch out for retweets. Remember, it's NPR's position that they usually WILL be seen as endorsements. Say that your in-laws post about how happy they are to be with you this year. Should you retweet that? If you do, it could look as if you're just as happy to be with them. Honesty is among our core principles. Don't call yours into question.

Above all else, avoid clichés like the plague. You almost surely didn't go "over the river and through the woods" to get anywhere. The word "cornucopia" is not necessary. You get one use of the word "stuffed." Period.

Finally, some thanks.

Thanks to those who will be working on Thursday. Thanks for everyone's hard work this year. And thanks for reading the Memmos, even one that's meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.