Topic 4: The Ethics of Social Media

In the last topic, I talked about how the rise of the digital age has lent its way to businesses using social media in a more professional way, including branding and recruiting. This is especially useful when the platforms are free to use, but offer paid advertising spaces where businesses can promote their brand (Corcione, 2017).

However, Cain and Fink, 2010, have proposed ethical questions surrounding the use of social media:

Question of ethics

Self-produced on Adobe Photoshop CS6

What I would like to focus on is the issue of knowing who actually views the information you put out there. While posting things on Facebook are technically ‘public’, is it truly an ‘open public’? Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are generally created to create a connection between people (McAlister, 2012), but they are not the type of owner-less, open, public domains where information is free for everyone. In fact, most posts will be aimed at a small circle of friends and family.

FB Privacy settings

Privacy settings on posts on Facebook, screenshot taken by myself

Facebook is good in the way that when posting, you are able to directly control who can see the post, even amongst your own friends. Other social media sites have this to a degree; YouTube and Tumblr allow you to post videos and make posts privately, so that only you can see them. However, Twitter, unfortunately, is even more restricted. You can make your profile private or public, as is the case with Instagram, however you cannot change the settings for each post. This can lead to unfortunate cases such as Justine Sacco which I wrote about in Topic 3.

Logo banner

Logos of social medias, self-produced on Adobe Photoshop CS6

When we want the privacy to express ourselves in the way we want, it is almost suppressive when knowing that employers will actively seek out any information that might act against you on all of your social medias. This leads to the ethical issue I mentioned at the start: who is viewing your information?

When you use more than one social media, the different privacy settings allow for an increased ability to find something that you might have intended to just be for friends. Being researched by employers is one thing, but having your private spaces invaded, even if it is social media, is another thing completely.



Cain, Jeff & Fink, Joseph L., (2015) ‘Legal and Ethical Issues Regarding Social Media and Pharmacy Education’ [Accessed 25th March 2017]

Corcione, Danielle, (2017) ‘Social Media for Business: A Marketer’s Guide’ [Accessed 25th March 2017]

Greenwald, Glenn (2014) ‘Why privacy matters’ [Accessed 26th March 2017]

Localsphere Digital Media Inc., (2016) ‘Social Media for businesses’ [Accessed 26th March 2017]

McAlister, Matt, (2012) ‘Social networking is threatening the open public network’ [Accessed 25th March 2017]

The Guardian, (2014) ‘Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger’ [Accessed 25th March 2017]



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