Despite the internet being very useful in many aspects, it is essentially a war-zone, with unethical bombs detonating every minute. Our privacy is tarnished, reputations are shattered and lives are ruined because of unethical behaviour online. The next question poses – is there anything we can do?
Here’s a video by Greenwald, passionately explaining ‘Why Privacy Matters’ (Greenwald, 2014) where he refers to companies such as Google; exploiting everyone’s personal information. Everything you do online can more or less be traced back, and it’s a company that we deem ‘safe’ holding all of this private information.
How do you feel about somebody so high up in Google openly saying this? Now knowing full well they hold some private information on you that could potentially ruin your life.
Not so safe or ethical…
One life that has been ruined because of unethical online activity is the Justine Sacco story
Justine Sacco’s (former senior director of corporate communications at IAC) life changed when she tweeted to her 170 followers “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” (Ronson, 2015).
Although assuming this ‘racist’ tweet would do her no harm, her privacy was tarnished instantly as her tweet went viral and nasty abuse came flying her way. She jeopardised her family name, lost her job and lost who she was as a person. Justine didn’t understand how her tweet was taken so literal, she claims she was shedding light on third world issues, where western people are all in a bubble, completely ignoring serious matters that should be addressed. When SouthPark or comedians are racist it’s funny, yet when someone we don’t know attempts to use irony for third world awareness it is taken out of context and our next responsibility is to try and ruin their lives.
Realistically, it was unethical to tweet what she did. Simultaneously, it is unethical to have double standards and it is unethical to purposely try and destroy someone’s life, particularly when their message is arguably taken out of context.
Additionally on sites such as Twitter, individuals are getting bullied. Social media is regretfully providing a platform in which you are able to write offensive messages and more often than not get away with it. How is this ethical?
The original question I posed is can we stop unethical activity online? Laws have come into place to prevent the likes of cyber-bullying, Riley (above) was arrested for his tweets on ‘suspicion of malicious communications’ but the majority of cyber-bullying goes unnoticed (WebStaff, 2012).
I personally believe unethical activities will always exist online
Cleland, S. (2012). Google’s Top Ten Anti-Privacy Quotes — Part 3 In Google’s Own Words Series | The Precursor Blog by Scott Cleland. [online] Precursorblog.com. Available at: http://precursorblog.com/?q=content/googles-top-ten-anti-privacy-quotes-part-3-googles-own-words-series [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].
Evans, B. (2013). One in five youngsters suffer ‘extreme’ abuse online every day. [online] Mail Online. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2441239/1-5-young-people-suffer-extreme-cyber-bullying-day-Facebook-accounting-half.html [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].
Greenwald, G. (2014). Why privacy matters. [online] Ted.com. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/glenn_greenwald_why_privacy_matters#t-189393 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].
Ronson, J. (2015). How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Magazine&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=article&_r=2 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].
WebStaff, (2012). Teen arrested after Tweeting about deceased father of Olympic diver. [online] FOX31 Denver. Available at: http://kdvr.com/2012/07/31/teen-arrested-after-tweeting-about-deceased-father-of-olympic-diver/ [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].
YouGotMalowned, (2012). The Most Offensive Jokes Ever. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9DkK06zZ_o [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].