Code of Ethics


As Community Managers we have responsibility for creating safe, welcoming, non-discriminatory and productive social environments in digital and virtual spaces, in which we facilitate free inquiry and discussion, with respect for universal human rights.

We have a unique role as brokers and mediators of relationships, and
unique opportunities to create constructive outcomes for the ecosystem of Australia’s online communities and social media networks.

This is a potent time for social media. We believe its capacity to exact profound influence on people and events must come with accountability.

We are also mindful that there is a challenging disconnect between the terms governing social media platforms and the safe governance of the communities that gather there.

The aim of this Code is to establish standards of practice to guide Community Managers when acting on behalf of their organisation, and in the interests of their communities.

This framework provides Community Managers, their employers and the
public a clear understanding, and expectation, of what is considered ethical practice within their industry.

Fundamentally, the pursuit of ‘engagement’ and other commercially motivated outcomes is not an excuse to act contrary to this guidance.

Australian Community Managers

Code of Ethics

Community Managers will educate themselves about the ethical and legal principles applying to their work, and apply the following standards of practice:

  1. Deal fairly and honestly with the general public, employers, clients and prospective clients, with their fellow workers, with public officials and the media.
  2. Avoid creating or publishing content, posts or replies that contain unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.
  3. Never engage in gender or racial baiting for the purposes of boosting traffic or engagement.
  4. Do their utmost, within their professional capacities, to ensure reasonable member conduct within their communities. Community Managers should report any forms of harassment, whether directed at them or others, to their employer and to the platforms this activity occurs on.
  5. Community Managers should to their utmost to remain up to date with all relevant legislation in their regions of practice and community locations, and should comply with these at all times. Note: This does not preclude advocating for change of this regulation or informing its evolution.
  6. Adhere to all relevant rules and terms on the platforms on which they operate. Compliance does not prevent Community Managers from offering platforms constructive criticism or lodging formal complaints if required.
  7. Respect copyright regulations. Community Managers should seek permission to re-post content from other sources, and must correctly attribute all copyrighted content to the original owner or licensee (in the case of Creative Commons or similar).
  8. Disclose any personal conflicts of interest, and not permit payments, gifts or benefits to undermine the accuracy or fairness of their interactions with employers, their communities and the general public.
  9. Avoid conduct or practices likely to bring discredit upon themselves, their employers or clients and their colleagues.
  10. Do not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information and take care to address errors and issue corrections as soon as is practicable. Where it is verified that community members have posted other’s private information, false or defamatory material Community Managers will act to remove it in a timely fashion.

Authors & Background

Version 1, November 2016

This first version of the Code of Ethics for Australian community management professionals has been created collaboratively by Swarm Conference, (founders Alison Michalk and Venessa Paech), in consultation with the Australian Community Managers Industry group and the Department of Media and Communications, University of Sydney. It is the hope and intent of the authors that this document will work to educate and uphold ethical standards across the industry.