Social media is generally portrayed as a positive thing amongst society but I think people tend to forget the ethical concerns behind social networking. What’s even more worrying is that young people are probably the most vulnerable when it comes to using social media. Below I will provide a list of some serious social media ethical concerns published by Professor Paula Swatman from the University of Tasmania.
When social networking no one can ever guarantee 100% that they are speaking to the person says they are. A perfect example was posted by Gary Chuang on his E-Marketing blog, Reddit AMA – President of US and A special, where Barack Obama was doing a Q&A online. Obviously, it wasn’t Obama himself who was answering questions, it was many of his representatives. How can we trust people through social media sites when it is so easy for them to conceal their identity. Further, what a lot of social media users aren’t aware of is that the space they are using is being observed by its creators. ‘Stalking’ individuals in real life and gathering information isn’t welcomed however it’s done everyday on social media sites, so why is it acceptable through a cyber platform?
To continue from above, this ‘observing’ of individuals using social media sites is okay, because users consent to it! Sounds crazy hey? The only thing that cray about it, is that a majority of people are unaware that they allow these huge organizations do ‘stalk’ if you will, their activity simply by registering, uploading content, posting comments etc. Furthermore, there is no way of knowing for sure that users of social media sites are of the required age. For example are all Facebook users’ over the age of 15? I highly doubt that! Even if parental consent is required, this doesn’t mean that a parent actually consented. Having children freely disclose information not knowing who is watching and that they have actually allowed creators to store information is highly concerning.
Here’s a little bit of interesting information about foreign government accessing social media data.
“Social networking platforms are mostly US-based…US-based data are subject to the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act – data can be accessed by US federal law enforcement agencies, no matter who owns them…Australians storing data on US sites cannot claim protection under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution (which protects US citizens against unlawful search and seizure of property and information) because their data are stored by a 3rd-party provider”
Does that seem fair? It’s a little scary knowing a foreign government can access everything we submit on these sites and there is nothing we can do about it? So make sure if you don’t want Facebook, or perhaps the US Government to know something, simply, don’t post it!
Personally, I think the biggest ethical concern is protecting young adults who think these social sites are a safe space. There are so many hidden dangers and ethical concerns on the organizations behalf that younger people wouldn’t even consider when signing up to Facebook, Twitter etc. These organizations have so much information, surely they are doing something more with it than just selling it to marketing companies? I have to admit, I don’t trust them one bit!