Ethical, Social and Legal Issues in Social Media
Keeping in touch with friends, loved ones and target markets was the main outcome of social media. Social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace has become a huge part of people as they are emotionally attached to these networks. When you meet someone for the first time the question arises are you on Facebook? Social networks may have changed people’s lives but also has its negative effects like everything else in life. Over the years social networks have strived to be at the top of the communications channel within nations across the globe. But too much of anything always creates adverse effects in the day to day activities of people and can be seen in many views involving professionals and also governments to be concerned by its going concerns.
In the USA according to a study by Robert Half Technology 54% if the companies have banned social network and 19% of the companies allow it only for business use. The reason that companies don’t allow its employees to engage in such activities is because it disrupts work flow and takes away the concentration of an employee during work time and the rate of efficiency is very low. Employees have to be constantly monitored and WebPages have to be blocked in order to ensure that its employees are not misusing its resources. UDHR.(2012) Article 12 states that privacy “ No one shall be subjected to the arbitrary interference with his/her privacy, family, home or correspondence, or to attach upon his honor or reputation. Everyone has the right to protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. According to this article if privacy is interfered by an organization it will be prosecuted in accordance to the law, but when considering the rules and regulations of a company, if the employer has informed its employees and included it on the employee handbook then the company is exempt of this law as it has the right to protect its resources used for.
The main issue faced by users who use social networks is that their personal information may be misused by third party software’s or even unauthorized access to their profiles. The DPA act (1998) states “Appropriate technical and organizational measure shall be taken against unauthorized or unlawful processing of personal data against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to personal data”. The social networks are liable to the information stored on their servers and if they tamper with the information they hold it in a serious crime as it can harm an individual or even tarnish their images depending on what is done with the information they hold about people as it can be very costly for an organization to collect for marketing a product or for a hacker to access their information due to personal grudges.
Security is a very vital part of a social network on which we should keep an eye on because information is accessed by a hacker he/she could even enter government information which will be disastrous. One way a person would give out information is by leaving an unattended computer while accessed to a social network. The other could be of creating fake profiles and pretending to be someone else. Commandments of computer ethics states that (CPSR, 2011) ‘’one shall not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation, use a computer to steal or use a computer to harm other people’’ There was a scenario once where a mother was pretending to be a boy on Facebook (fake profile) just to know what her daughter is up to. When the daughter found out it was her mother who was talking to her for so long she couldn’t take and committed suicide due to the reason that she had disclosed so much personal information that she would have never shared with her mother. BCS (2011) public interest “You shall have due respect for the public health, privacy, security and well being of others and the environment” The social networks should be very watchful and provide secure services to users and try to minimize the level of fake profiles created as it can take away privacy of individuals and also the security that is essential for the wellbeing of the public.
BCS code of conduct (2010) “Professional Competence and Integrity”. The use of social networks is banned in most companies and it should be abided by the employees to be in the interest of the organizations work flow. Organizations’ cannot completely stop its employees from using social media at work; this is due to the fact that they may have personal devices that will give them access to such sites. It is the organizations policy to ban social networks at work and it is also the employee’s duty to follow the rules and regulations of the organization. If an employee does not act professional at his work place by breaking the rules it breaks the code of conduct mentioned above. Competence is the ability to be in a position and integrity is mostly self developed depending on one’s Basic morals.
Copyright infringement is the other issue faced in social networks. Sharing of Music, Videos and Pictures or logos without the consent of the owner is seen to be a violation of the law or could be equal to stealing. Sharing material that doesn’t belong to you is considered stealing although people don’t see it that way it breaks copyright law (2009) UK. The use of another person’s picture or sharing it without the consent of him/her is a violation of the Computer misuse act (1990) “Unauthorized access to computer material” it can be either imprisonment or a fine depending on the courts sentence. This is mainly done by companies or people to attract other people to gather information. Users should be really careful on who they communicate with on social networks. Talking to strangers is dangerous and many crimes including death have been caused due to people talking to strangers.
It is always the motive of the developers of social networks that really matter. Some people foolishly trust social network sites that are new in the market and get cheated out with money or get their personal information grabbed. Once the information is taken there is no getting it back and most of the time the hackers are left without trace. The techniques most hackers use to get personal information are without the user knowing that his/her information is being taken. The access to social networks from public networks or internet café should be minimal as they are not protected from viruses sometimes and may contain software’s like key loggers. Having the same password for bank accounts and social networks should be avoided and the exchange of password over a social network should not be done because you may never know who is really talking to you or being hacked.
It all remains in the hands of the people to protect the information that is vital to them and be careful with what they share because after damage is done there is no use of finding the cause of it or to blame someone for it. Once damage is done it cannot be reversed nor can it be mended to be perfect. As mentioned before you may never know the actual reasons a social network may exist. In a social network like Facebook and twitter millions of people’s information is held and if the motive of the owners of such social networks is different to what they actually say it is the whole world may be affected by its effects and peoples images may be tarnished and may not be accepted socially.
Ethical, social and legal issues may arise in many instances due to the wrong use of social networks but it also has its good effects on people as they are able to stay in contact with their loved ones and also allows businesses to reach its target markets effortlessly. In the age of IT social networks have developed ever since the implementation of it and people have gotten to attached to it and it sure does play a big role in people’s lives. If people follow the principles of Ethics, Privacy policies and laws that apply to social networks, while respecting each and every individual and cultures without any harassments such as racial divisions, it could be further developed and seen a good thing in peoples’ lives with the help of governments and professional intuitions and limitations of developers’ rights and laws to be strictly followed. The end result will be achieved in nothing but making communication within nations to be just a click away without any fear in the adverse effects of social media being available to people. In the ultimatum it only lies in the people’s hands to protect and serve what is right in order to make the world a safer and better place to live in without harming the environment or other living beings.