Social media firestorm engulfs the Associated Press | #socialmedia


The Associated Press has been engulfed in a social media firestorm since it terminated the employment of one of its Arizona news associates because of what it deemed as pro-Palestine messages it stated violated its social media policy. However, the AP is standing by its decision.

Emily Wilder was dismissed by the AP on May 19, 16 days after being hired, for an unspecified tweet she was said to have written in the short time between when she was hired and fired. Wilder believes the tweet in question was from May 16 when she wrote, “‘objectivity’ feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly stake a claim. using ‘israel’ but never ‘palestine,’ or ‘war’ but not ‘siege and occupation’ are political choices — yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased.”

After publishing her tweet, members of the Stanford College Republicans (Wilder is a Stanford alum) discovered old posts from Wilder’s time at the university when she was a member of the pro-Palestinian groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. Wilder is Jewish. In one previous post, Wilder called one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest donors, Jewish businessman Shel Adelson, a “far-right, pro-Trump, naked mole rat-looking billionaire.”

As posts from the Stanford College Republicans made rounds online, outlets such as the Washington Free Beacon and The Federalist began to weigh in on Wilder’s college posts, calling her “anti-Israel.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) took to Twitter to say that AP hiring Wilder was “[n]ot a surprise from a media organization that shared office space with Hamas.”


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The AP terminated Wilder’s employment soon after. 

In a statement following her termination, Wilder wrote, in part, “This is heartbreaking as a young journalist so hungry to learn from the fearless investigative reporting of AP journalists — and do that reporting myself. It’s terrifying as a young woman who was hung out to dry when I needed support from my institution most. And it’s enraging as a Jewish person — who grew up in a Jewish community, attended Orthodox schooling and devoted my college years to study Palestine and Israel — it appears they took it as an opportunity to make me a scapegoat.”

On Monday, 144 AP staffers signed an open letter to the company disapproving of its handling of the events and demanding “more clarity from the company” about Wilder’s termination.

“Wilder was a young journalist, unnecessarily harmed by the AP’s handling and announcement of its firing of her,” the letter said. “We need to know that the AP would stand behind and provide resources to journalists who are the subject of smear campaigns and online harassment. As journalists who cover contentious subjects, we are often the target of people unhappy with scrutiny. What happens when they orchestrate a smear campaign targeting another one of us?”

In response, AP editors sent a memo to the staff, which has been viewed by Changing America, about overhauling the AP’s social media policies.


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“One of the issues brought forward in recent days is the belief that restrictions on social media prevent you from being your true self, and that this disproportionately harms journalists of color, LGBTQ journalists and others who often feel attacked online,” the memo reads. “We need to dive into this issue.”

“Another request we’ve gotten is for more clarity about what can and can’t be said online,” the memo said. “One suggestion is to provide examples that help illustrate our social media guidelines. We like that idea, and are eager for more.”

The editors briefly addressed Wilder’s termination, stating, “Sharing more information about Emily Wilder’s dismissal is difficult, because we do not publicly discuss personnel matters. We have that policy to protect the privacy of our staff, now and in the future.”

We can assure you that much of the coverage and commentary does not accurately portray a difficult decision that we did not make lightly.”

Changing America inquired about what tweets had violated the AP’s guidelines and the decision to overhaul the AP’s social media guidelines following Wilder’s termination when such an examination of the policies may have benefited her. However, Changing America was directed to the memo.

Wilder had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.


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