A Social Media Ethics

By Catherine Crump

@thekaticrump

gotethics

Photo Credit: http://www.tes.com

For hundreds and hundreds of years philosophers have argued about moral codes or ethics, as well as trying to give a definition to good and bad. Ethics is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as being “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group” or “a set of moral principles”. Ethics are hard to judge universally, as morality is often defined by the society one lives in or the church one attends. This becomes a factor in the use of and ethics of social media, given that such geographically induced morality is no longer the sole influence on society.

The nature of social media is to provide a platform for people to do many of the same things done socially in person – Exchange information, keep in touch with family, business networking, selling, buying, making friends and developing romantic relationships. Maslow’s stated need for social acceptance and love could account for the increasing popularity of such mediums, which allow for near immediate gratification and are at the fingertips of the world. However, these social interactions are not an exact match for the same, in person, interactions. A discussion regarding the ethics of social media has been started and deserves attention as behavior in this uncharted territory is being charted as these words are being read.

The difficulties in developing a universal ethics presented previously are immensely increased by the diverse landscape of the values and definitions of good represented by different peoples/cultures online. Add to this the change in human behavior during social interaction, given such widespread use of electronic interactions, and the problem seems almost insurmountable.

As a child, I was taught to do unto others as I would have done unto myself. This allows me to understand how I should behave, but in my electronic interactions I’m not as certain of how others will behave towards me. Perhaps it would be wise for those of us utilizing social media to begin thinking about what is right and wrong regarding social media. Which behaviors are acceptable and are there any that are not? If so, what are they and how are they to be dealt with? Morality/ethics on social media is a broad and daunting topic, but the discussion should be had.

 

Citations:

Ethics: a general introduction. (n.d.) Retrieved February 12, 2017 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/introduction/intro_1.shtml

Ethic: Definition of Ethic. Merriam Webster Dictionary. Retrieved February 11, 2017 from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethic

New Media in Psychology and Philosophy. (September 22, 2016) Retrieved February 11, 2017 from http://dailynous.com/2016/09/22/new-media-psychology-philosophy/

Social Networking and Ethics. (August 3, 2012) Retrieved February 11, 2017 from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-social-networking/

 

Photo: Retrieved February 12, 2017 from https://www.tes.com/lessons/FaltzyXlk5Nzrg/ethic-in-social-media

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Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism