The rapidly increasing use of social media is impacts most areas of our lives in one way or another. Unfortunately, this has triggered a number of ethical issues to be raised within businesses in relation to social media. Ethical issues address the debate between what is considered right and wrong, these however can vary due to cultural and religious differences. Therefore, it can be difficult for the worldwide social media organisations, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to manage and act accordingly. A common ethical issue with social media is the privacy of their accounts and who has access to them, particularly when applied to a business or educational environment. I found the video below gave an interesting perspective into social media privacy.
Because social media is relatively new and is developing rapidly, many employers and employees do not fully understand the legal boundaries when using it. For this reason, social media has been responsible for many people losing their jobs. An example of this is that Justine Sacco case which I have mentioned in my previous blog.
Cain & Fink (2010) outline the 5 questions relating to ethics and social media;
1. Who is viewing the social media information?
2.How is the social media information accessed?
3. For what purpose is the social information used?
4. What are the criteria one uses for making judgments about social media information?
5. What is the nature of “relationships” in social media?1
Privacy and data protection in terms of social media, is controlling the content they put online and who may view/access it. When people turn their accounts private to protect personal photos and opinions, they assume the content cannot be access by external people.
However, when may it be ethical or justified to access this information?
This brings up the debate when the government and police force can intervene and access this private accounts on social media. It is evident that there is a very blurred line between private and public information which then makes the issue of “freedom of speech” prominent.
Freedom of speech ‘the power or right to express one’s opinions without censorship, restraint or legal penalty’2
Although a set of guidelines have been set from the director of public prosecutions about what is acceptable and what is not, I believe these may not have been communicated to the public effectively. Everyone has a right to express their opinion on social media, but where should the line be drawn?
The positives about accessing private content on social media can vary from stopping a child from being cyber bullied, to preventing a terrorist attack! Obviously, in these circumstances invading peoples privacy is justifiable. On the other hand, should the government be allowed to monitor content on social media which we believe is private?
- Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058471/ [accessed on the 24th of April]
- Available from: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/freedom-of-speech %5Baccessed on the 24th of April]
- Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9pFMSKPXSk %5Baccessed on the 24th of April]
- Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/introduction/intro_1.shtml [accessed on the 24th of April]
- Available from: https://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_22_the_ethical_challenges_of_social_media.pdf %5Baccessed on the 24th of April]
- Available from: https://blog.x1discovery.com/2011/11/28/can-lawyers-be-disqualified-by-merely-viewing-a-linkedin-profile-the-implications-of-indirect-social-media-communications-and-legal-ethics-rules/ %5Baccessed on the 24th of April]