According to Reference, ethical issues bring morality and principles into conflict and are more subjective and open to opinions and interpretation. Social media brings to light numerous ethical issues for example the issue of anonymity and privacy, freedom of speech and fake news. Social media giants (Facebook, Twitter) are slowly being forced to deal with these issues and held liable, rightly or wrongly.
Crowd mentality or as said by Shirky “Organising without organisations” is where powerful social movements emerge because the decentralised internet empowers their participation. This, on social media can also cause one post of hate to go widespread and turn into a torrent of abuse. Anonymity can be a crucial element of why people feel they can commit an offence-they are detached from the consequence. Black Mirror showcases this perfectly; it shows how people are willing to participate in online hate even when a life is in danger- and how it can backfire. A brilliant watch.
Specifically, the line that separates freedom of speech from online abuse is blurry. Social media gives “a megaphone to people who enjoy shouting, positively and negatively” (Guardian,2014). These ‘shouts’ can often be attacks on individuals and have damaging effects. Where do we draw the line that separates the harmless from the criminal? Now, clear guidelines have been set from the director of public prosecutions:
Once the post has been classed as criminal, the real problem lies with it getting removed. Businesses such as Twitter and Facebook are reluctant to edit what appears on their site and to reveal the identities behind anonymous accounts. Specifically Twitter, they want to remain a platform for communication rather than be seen as a publisher and face even more liability for what appears on their site (Guardian, 2014).
Revenues and profit aside, when lives are in danger, and criminal activity is taking place in a supposedly ‘safe’ environment social giants such as Facebook and Twitter must increase the speed in which posts are deleted and cooperate with investigations of individuals. If hate crime receives no punishment we can only see it increase in the future. If a threat was made online with intent to carry through, it should be prevented early. Although there is no clear solution, as fines can’t motivate businesses who can’t afford to adapt, it could be suggested that Governments subsidise businesses to aid them in the challenge of monitoring the internet, as it is a public benefit after all.
Background information on Black Mirror:
A computer hacker ran an online assassination poll through twitter using a hashtag, where the public could anonymously vote for the most hated person. Each day, whoever was at the top of the poll was murdered. This could be anyone from someone who has appeared in the news to a politician or famous figure. Even as people realised the hashtag worked, they carried on voting. The hacker logged every user who voted, anonymous or not, and in the end they all suffered their own consequence of dying the same way. It was chilling, but put across fantastically that we can’t hide from our actions and the power of anonymity and mob mentality can put potential in anybody to be that person who abuses online. It summarises and challenges this posts idea wonderfully and I recommend anybody who is interested to give it a watch.
Black Mirror, http://www.Netflix.com
G.Greenwald, TED, 2014 Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_mattersa
J.Ronson, How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life,2014 Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-
L.Kelion, UK Jumps Up Internet Scoreboard as Digital Divide Grows, 2013 Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24426739
M.Butcher, Unless online giants stop the abuse of free speech, democracy and innovation gets threatened, 2017 Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/20/online-giants-must-bolster-democracy-against-its-abuse-or-watch-innovation-die/
Reference, Available at: https://www.reference.com/world-view/ethical-issue-f1d5bd587b50cdbf
Shirky, 2015, How The Wisdom of The Crowd Can Turn Into Social Media Mob Rule, http://theconversation.com/how-the-wisdom-of-the-crowd-can-turn-into-social-media-mob-rule-43376
S. Raeburn, Free Speech vs Abuse,2013, Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2013/08/23/free-speech-v-abuse-new-online-battleground
The Guardian, Twitter Abuse, 2014 Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/24/twitter-abuse-abusive-tweets-editorial?CMP=twt_gu
Z.Kleinman, The Curious Case of Leah Palmer, 2015 Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-31710738