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Are social networking sites such as Facebook ethical?

Rachel Hawkes (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 25 November 2010

?Ethics and Social Networking Sites: A Disclosive Analysis of Facebook?

A new research paper announced today, explores the idea around whether social networking sites such as Facebook are or are not ethical.

The paper, published by Emerald Journal Information Technology & People, was written by Ben Light, a professor of digital media and Kathy McGrath, a senior lecturer in information systems.  Light and McGrath studied Facebook for more than two years in order to write their paper, entitled ?Ethics and Social Networking Sites: A Disclosive Analysis of Facebook.?

Emereld LogoWriting about Facebook and privacy, Light comments, ?the privacy settings have gone further and further away into the background on Facebook as it has evolved.?  The authors point out that with more than 500 million active users, Facebook users can find it themselves at risk of cyberstalking or identity theft if they do not pro-actively adopt the necessary privacy settings.

The paper focuses on the ?moral codes? in place in technology, in addition to the moral behaviour of users; prompting the authors to raise concerns about the lack of transparency in social networks.  It highlights how mediating privacy issues is coming increasingly difficult.

Existing research continues to delve into the ethical behaviour of the user (as opposed to the technology and how the two intertwine).  Light and McGrath comment, ?Developers don?t always know how the technology is going to work in practice, and the uses don?t, so it becomes a case of: ?who?s moral obligation is it? Is it the users? Is it the developers?.?

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