In the era of emerging social media, anyone who posts information on ablog, tweet, Facebook or e-mail ought to be aware of some simplerules, law and principles.In other words, follow these and keep yourself out of hot water as you participate in citizen journalism and rise above the incivility so common online.First, remember the \"in print or in court\" principle. Be prepared to have whatever you post online to be read back to you some day in a court of law. Online postings can be just as defamatory as something written in a newspaper or magazine. Society has forgotten both legal and ethical restraints as it moves into online conversations.Second, don't engage in anonymous criticism. The Mormon Media Observer believes media outlets ought to ban anonymous comments outright, because they do little to enhance civil and thoughtful dialogue.It will probably never happen. There is some indication that defamation suits against anonymous posters is increasing although federal law does give some protection to those who host such online forums.I dislike that almost nearly every article that mentions the word \"Mormon\" on news sites devolves into ugly name-calling about the church and its beliefs. Latter-day Saints should avoid participating in online anonymous rants and discussion that attacks others and responds with a mean spirit.I was saddened by recent posts calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's church membership into question. Remember the definition of defamation — whatever harms whoever you write about can be considered libelous. Of course, Reid is a public official and may be nearly libel-proof, but there is a higher principle \"Judge not that you be not judged.\"Third, beyond what is legal, good online etiquette requires civility in online postings. Don't jump to respond in the heat of the moment.Take some time to respond in a thoughtful, mature matter. (See 24-hour rule below). Whether your actions are intended or unintended, whether they are based on willful disregard for ethics and the law or based on ignorance. Either way, you are accountable.Elder Robert D. Hales said in the October 2008 General Conference:\"As the Savior demonstrated with Herod, sometimes true disciples must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all. Once when I was golfing, I barely brushed up against a large cholla cactus, which seems to shoot needles like a porcupine. Thorns from that plant stuck all over my clothing, even though I had barely touched the cactus plant. \"Some situations are like that plant: they can only injure us.\"In such instances, we are better off to keep our distance and simply walk away. As we do, some may try to provoke us and engage us in argument. In the Book of Mormon, we read about Lehonti and his men camped upon a mount. The traitorous Amalickiah urged Lehonti to 'come down' and meet him in the valley. But when Lehonti left the high ground, he was poisoned 'by degrees' until he died, and his army fell into Amalickiah's hands (see Alma 47).\" By arguments and accusations, some people bait us to leave the high ground. The high ground is where the light is. It's where we see the first light of morning and the last light in the evening.It is the safe ground. It is true and where knowledge is. Sometimes others want us to come down off the high ground and join them in a theological scrum in the mud.These few contentious individuals are set on picking religious fights, online or in person. We are always better staying on the higher ground of mutual respect and love.\"Fifth, blogs, Tweets and Facebook entries are considered published material.Some people are under the impression that because it's published on a personal blog or Facebook that only friends will see the material.In an age when search engines scour every corner of the Blogosphere and Twitterverse, an off-handed posting about an employer, co-worker or someone's beliefs can be picked up and distributed easily.People have been fired and lost friends because of social media faux pas. Large news organizations now encourage employees to avoid posting anything that might put the organization in a bad light.Sixth, remember the 24-hour rule. Wait 24 hours before you return an e-mail or post a comment on a blog in anger. Usually after 24 hours the response is more muted and more civil. Sometimes the need to comment disappears.Don't say something online that you wouldn't say to someone's face.In conclusion, the thoughts of Elder M. Russell Ballard about online conversations two years ago are still appropriate.\"As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of new media, remember who you are — Latter-day Saints. Remember, as the proverb states, that 'a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger' (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). \"There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true.\"We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the prompting of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven.\"