DC Comics Clamps Down on Creators’ Social Media Behavior

by Jamison Ashley
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This past Tuesday night, DC Comics sent out an email to their comics freelance community about a recent update to their social media guidelines. In a nutshell, DC is asking their creators to behave themselves on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

From the email:

“DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action. In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass, and mean spirited are against company policy guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.”

John F. Trent of Bounding Into Comics got a copy of the an email and after reviewing it he has expressed some concerns that it is impossible to predict what someone might consider “discriminatory, harassing, [or] hateful”  without there being clear definitions to what this means, because anyone can claim that a comment was cruel, rude, or mean spirited. Comments could be taken out of context, it happens all the time.

At Bleeding Fool, we agree, but applaud DC Comics for trying to get out in front of this recent problem, unlike Marvel Comics who has seemingly been just fine with their creators attacking fans based on criticisms, race, political preferences, or religious affiliations. While comments can be interpreted many different ways, we think it’s important that the publishers pay attention to these and request that their creators be more mindful of how they interact with the customers.

From the Bounding Into Comics article:

A number of Marvel Comics freelancers have gotten in hot water over the past year. America writer Gabby Rivera was openly racist to white people. Current Captain America scribe Mark Waid insinuated all Republicans were pedophiles. Even Star Wars scribe Kieron Gillen accused Cable artist Jon Malin of being part of the Alt Right. However, it’s not just Marvel who has had issues with freelancers. IDW was accused of lying by their own freelancer Aubrey Sitterson after his G.I. JOE book was cancelled due to poor sales.

DC Comics was also most likely monitoring the recent social media scuffles involving Ethan Van Sciver. Van Sciver has had to repeatedly defend himself against claims that he is a Nazi. He isn’t. As he’s stated he’s a Republican.

Will DC defend their freelancers when accusations like this are made against them? Will they aim to “create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.” Or will they allow their freelancers to be constantly attacked with false claims?

Good points.

It recently came to our attention that Marvel Comics scribe Dan Slott, who has become notorious for his toxic social media persona, has apparently shut down his Twitter account. Although it has given us some cringy entertainment in the past, maybe this is for the best. No word on his various sock puppet accounts as of this writing. Could this mean that Marvel has implemented a similar social media guidance to DC Comics and we just don’t know about it yet?

Here’s the full email from DC Comics:

Dear DC Talent Community –

The comic book industry is a very special creative community dedicated to telling epic and legendary stories of action, heroism and intrigue with a rich and diverse portfolio of characters. Both DC’s employees, as well as its extended family of freelance talent, contribute to our success and are direct reflections of our company, characters and comics.

As such, DC expects that its employees and freelance talent community maintain a high level of professionalism as well as reasonable and respectful behavior when engaging in online activities. Comments that may be considered defamatory, libelous, discriminatory, harassing, hateful, or that incite violence are unacceptable and may result in civil or criminal action.

In addition, comments that may be considered insulting, cruel, rude, crass and mean spirited are against company policy and guidelines. We ask, and expect, that you will help to create an online environment that is inclusive, supportive and safe.

Below you will find the most current version of the company’s social media guidelines. If you have any questions, please contact DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.

DC Entertainment Social Media Guidelines for Talent

This policy has been developed to empower DC Talent to participate in social media activities, represent their creative endeavors well and share their passion for DC’s characters, stories and brands. We recognize the vital importance of online social communities and this policy reflects our commitment to the best possible use of social media. Below are DC’s recommended guidelines when partaking in social media.

  • Stay positive when you post and we also recommend that you avoid negative comments in this very public forum.
  • You may want to refrain from engaging with individuals who may be speaking negatively about you, other talent, DC, our fans and the comics industry as this is a no-win situation.
  • If there has been a personal threat to you or those around you then in addition to alerting DC, please involve the proper law enforcement authorities.
  • Use good judgment when posting, reposting and liking comments, photos and videos as these may have unintended consequences.
  • Talent should take special care when using social media to ensure that comments and postings made by you are not associated with DC.
  • Under all circumstances, please indicate that you do work for DC, but that your comments are your own and do not reflect those of the company.
  • The internet is permanent regardless of “privacy settings” or other limits you may try to place on your posting. Think before you post, comment, retweet or like something.
  • Do not reveal plot points, storylines or launch timing — including photos or video of in-progress assets, artwork, story outlines, scripts, panels, announcement details, etc. without coordinating with DC Publicity. Members of the press may follow you on social media, and your posts can — and probably will — become news.
  • Don’t break news on social media. If you have any questions on what you can or can’t post on any platform, DC Publicity or Talent Relations departments are available to assist.
  • If you’d like to share DC news on your social pages, we recommend sharing news from DCComics.com, DCE-sanctioned social media pages and other news widely reported on credible news outlets.
  • If you are contacted by members of the press or asked to participate in an interview about your work for DC, please coordinate this with the DC Publicity department so that news can be rolled out in an orchestrated fashion and elevated on DC digital and social channels as well.

And finally, we recognize that there can be a dark side to social media and to that end if you feel that you are being harassed or bullied through social media channels because of your work for DC or your association with us, please feel free to contact the DC Talent Relations department so that we can be of assistance.