Assessment 3

Social Media Ethics and Regulations

Defining what is good and bad could be difficult, as people have different perceptions – whether this is due to religious beliefs, cultural upbringing or a lack of respect for the law, expression of right or wrong could determine action or reaction. However, when it comes to social media, ethics is usually a guideline users agree to follow, and whether they break the rules is entirely up to them: however, users also agree to the consequences that will be determined due to their actions.[1]

When using social media, users need to comply with the rules and regulations of each website – respect for other users, no abusive, sexual or offensive content as well as avoiding spam links that may steal information. If these rules are broken, social media websites can and will act against immoral users.[2]

“In social media, the right ethic equals the right perspective and the right thinking on how to leverage social media appropriately and how to engage people in the right manner.” – Carolyn Cohn, Social Media Ethics and Etiquette.[3]

Every country has opposing governing laws and ethics codes. If these laws are broken, there could be serious consequences and the perpetrator could be held accountable, or even imprisoned. Similar laws apply for the media, as well as internet users. [4]

“Lawmakers, regulators and the courts are slow to keep pace with technological change, including the evolving social media landscape, but previous law remains important.” Jeremy Harris Lipschultz, Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics.

Many users assume they are safely hidden behind their glowing devices, secure of all consequences relating to their actions on social networking websites. Though the internet is vast and difficult to maintain, this assumption is furthest from the truth. Websites generally expect users to agree to their terms and conditions when signing on, which includes complying with their ethics regulations. The termsand conditions will state that website managers are required to act against users that may be in violation of breaking their terms, whether this includes abuse of other users, sharing spam files that are corrupt and infected with viruses, spreading hate messages, politically charged anarchy or personally attacking governments, organisations and religious groups, fraud, or any other violation acting against the principals for each respective website that may cause legal issues.

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[2] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

[3] Cohn, C. (2018). Social Media Ethics and EtiquetteCompuKol Communications. Retrieved 25th April 2018, from https://www.compukol.com/social-media-ethics-and-etiquette/

[4] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 236-270). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.Image 1

Because of this, there are rules and regulations every user must follow, and these can vary with each respective country. Though each website has rules and regulations on a general basis, cultural differences apply in different regions of the world. [1]

Certain countries are very strict with social media platform usage, therefore can limit access or even ban websites completely. Though this may seem extreme, every country has its respective governing bodies keeping track of the media and internet users alike. This is to enforce caution on their population, to avoid incoming and outgoing spread of central information and political agenda.[2]

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[2] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

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Countries such as Turkey, Iran, China and North Korea struggle with internet restrictions, largely due to their respective leaders banning platforms that allow freedom of speech. This also limits journalists from revealing documents, research, videos or photographs that may be damaging to the reputation of the government in question.[1]

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

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Though technology advances vastly, and the internet is still seen as a grey area that is difficult to control, or apply proper laws and order – mainly due to the broad scale of webpages and user count – users could still be monitored by the platforms they are using, leaving behind a traceable IP Address, which could be tracked down by the local police. [1]

However, to try and keep a healthy networking space, many social media platforms will warn users of reporting unacceptable behavior, as well as warning problematic users or terminating disagreeable user accounts.[2] Due to this, websites will also clarify by explaining that when users agree to the terms and conditions, they are agreeing to the clause that gives the website runners permission to hand over user

data to law enforcers as evidence – should evidence need to be provided. Therefore, users are cautioned to comply with the rules and regulations of chosen social media platforms. [1]

 “Centuries of jurisprudence about media law provide a foundation for understanding

particular challenges we face when using social media” Stewart, D. Social Media and the Law

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

[2] Cohn, C. (2018). Social Media Ethics and EtiquetteCompuKol Communications. Retrieved 25th April 2018, from https://www.compukol.com/social-media-ethics-and-etiquette/

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However, there are many cautions to stop users from committing fraud, spam, or sharing links that may be spreading hate, fear, abuse, or even links to other websites that may contain information stealing viruses, which could access your personal emails, banking details as well as forward the spam message to all your friends on your account, which then will also infect their computers and steal their information as well. [1]

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

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To avoid fraud and identity theft, users are cautioned to watch out for specific signs, or to report anything they made deem as suspicious activity. However, there is only so much website managers could do to help users, so consumers are responsible for whom they speak with, information they share, as well as groups they join or willingly access links shared to them by unknown users.[1]

There are users willing to spread misinformation regarding celebrities, politicians, fellow employees, false charity organisations – only to gain likes, shares, make money or to gain media attention for their own provocative needs. Unless user accounts have verification of their authority, or the information they are sharing is based on fact and evidence, their accounts will be suspended. This includes users spreading lies, making accusations and ultimately using defamatory speech to target people or groups – which could be especially harming to any targeted individual’s reputation.[1] This could cause issues in their private, public and work life, which could lead to psychological distress. This is where social media ethics and regulations should apply heavily to stop this kind of behavior.

[1] Gordon, D., Kittross, J., Merrill, J., & Reuss, C. (1999). Controversies in media ethics. New York: Longman.

[1] Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics (2nd ed., pp. 236-270). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.

“An interactive network, to which anyone can contribute and in which information

is exchanged rather than simply delivered, creates ethical issues that go

beyond those faced by professionals working in traditional media environments.” Jane B. Singer Online Journalism Ethics[1]

What Singer means is that it is very complicated regarding ethical issues within social media. It is very difficult to monitor the actions of every user consistently. Because of this, many users have the potential to spread influential messages – negative or otherwise, and even cause controversial issues. Whereas traditional media is subject to censorship to avoid repercussions.

“Like traditional media, the Internet allows speakers to communicate their messages to a large consuming public. However, because the content providers include independent speakers – whose information may be subject to minimal editing – as well as traditional media speakers – whose information is often verified and edited – defamatory speech has greater potential to reach a widespread audience. Given the speed with which such content can be disseminated and reputations injured as a result… defamatory Internet speech must be critically evaluated.” [2] – Karen Sanders, Ethics & Journalism

There is still a long road ahead till the internet becomes something easy to comprehend. For now, small restrictions, terms and conditions – or rules and regulations will apply. This does not mean that users will comply, but the more social media runners learn about user behaviour, the more likely it is that they will become prone to finding crafty and advanced methods of hindering people from breaking their rules. The future may hold interesting new innovative ideas for social media platform developers – for now, the terms and conditions will have to suffice.

[1] Friend, C., & Singer, J. Online journalism ethics.

[2] Sanders, K. (2008). Ethics & journalism. Los Angeles: Sage.

References

  • Lipschultz, J. (2017). Social Media Communication : Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics(2nd ed., pp. 271-292). Nebraska: Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Sanders, K. (2008). Ethics & journalism. Los Angeles: Sage.
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