Monday, April 18, 2011

Ethical challenges of Facebook

As with any new frontier there will be unforseen benefits and problems. It is simply the "nature of the beast." Social mediums have connected people in a way previously unmatched in our history. We no longer have to wait for 6pm to find out the latest news or gossip. With social media; everyone is a news reporter. This is both a blessing and a curse because along with quality news, there exists a tremendous amount of mis-information. Specifically, Facebook has to wrestle new issues such as "cyber bullying,"and employee privacy. There are several cases in court as we type concerning people who have been fired due to ill advised postings on Facebook. Ethical questions arise; does the employer have a right to monitor employees` Facebook pages? Some say yes, as long as the employee is a work; but what if the employee is at home complaining about his/her boss? Cyber intimidation is another hot topic; should Facebook protect targets of "smear" campaigns? When writing about free speech in the first amendment, the founders of this great country could not have imagined Facebook. What standards or limits should Facebook place on free speech?; should hate groups be allowed to set up pages? Atheists?Religious groups? Facebook has walked a fine line between embracing everyone and alienating few.However, as more people join, this task becomes more complicated. Different nationalities, cultures, political, and religious views all being meshed together in social medium.On a more sinister note; we must consider that such mediums make it easier for people to be monitored by government agencies. Will your posts come back to haunt you one day? What about the selling of your information to corporations for advertising purposes? Security has always been an issue with Facebook; people have been victimized by identity theft and in an extreme case murdered after a stalker used information innocently provided by the user to find her place of residence. Other relevant issues; are child saftey, specifically from pedophiles hiding on Facebook. In closing, I would like to say I like Facebook, and that for the most part it is a beautiful thing, however there is a dark side as with anything else. How Facebook handles the "dark side" will determine its future and place in history. We know more about each other now than perhaps at any other time in history, but  is this a good thing or will familiarity breed contempt? Only time will tell, but Facebook is a Pandora`s box and it is wide open.

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