With the rise of Online Social Networking, the ethical dilemmas are growing in number
including violation of privacy, misrepresentation, bullying and creepiness. When the consumers
are getting the facility of relatively unrestricted social communications they are becoming more
vulnerable to deception and scams too at the same time which has become the reason of
attention for Social Networking Ethics. Few ethical dilemmas faced when different people use
social networks are given below:
Invasion of privacy
If the actions that break the law or terms of privacy of any user of social network harms
that individuals personal or professional credibility should be considered unethical. The
invasion of privacy would include any non-permissive approach taken to get any kind of
personal or any other kind of information about an individual which can harm him or affect him
in any sense.
While discussing social media ethics, behavioral targeting is a questionable area to
consider. The advertisers tracking our shopping behaviors and click through patterns to use that
data in retargeting campaigns. The positive point is that the viewers may appreciate the
relevance of the material being advertised to them but this is a kind of invasion of privacy.
A very similar situation occurs when marketers give their email lists to Facebook to use
custom audience feature. They match those lists to the emails which are registered with them
Over-publicizing unasked promotional messages is also considered as an unethical act
based on how this is being done. In spamming users are usually bombarded with some kind of
information which does not interest them or even if it does, it is too extensive to be swallowed.
In this situation, the user’s relative information which he may be needing gets under the pile
and may get ignored because of that useless pile of spamming which is obviously unethical
from user’s perspective.
While using social networks people think that they are private and they can express
anything they want to but they are not as private as they think. Disparaging your competitors in
SNS (social networking sites) is considered unethical because of its broad range of negative
impacts. Once you have posted something, it is not yours anymore and it can go viral as fast as
a fire in the forest without asking for your permission which then can’t only affect your
reputation but also the person or company you were disparaging about, so much. This kind of
cases can also raise a risk for legal lawsuits.
Dishonesty and Distortion
There is no fair enough method to validate the honesty and authenticity of social
networking activities of users. The intensions of social media usage include transparency of
communications and other activities posts through SNS. It is unethical to be dishonest about
anything even on social networks. So, if you will make dishonest claims about yourself or
anything else or go on commenting offensive material, it is going to affect yourself or your
company at the end. By doing such activities you are jeopardizing your personal reputation and
your company’s name. So, we should all keep ethics in front of use even while using social
Improper Anonymity and Distorted Endorsements
If one represent himself with wrong affiliations, credentials or expertise, it is unethical
to become anonymous but showing yourself to be someone different than you are. There are
people who provide companies with their anonymous feedbacks which are not true and it has
caused a lot of damage to companies by the stories of consumers of their products by fake
Hiring people to comment your favorable or fabricated stories about your company or
your products are also considered unethical. Some employees are also found guilty of
exaggerating competitive deficiencies.
Misuse of free expertise and contests
With the increasing extensive use of Facebook contests and other crowdsourcing for
soliciting design ideas, the participants have the risk of making their secrets open with no
reward. Most of the times, design ideas are rewarded to the most profitable partners of the
social network sponsor leaving many with unrewarded work. This abuse is especially unethical
if the sponsor knowingly gathers superior design ideas from contestants they have no intention
In the objective of providing the communities of social networking sites with
contributions to their cause, the social media marketers provide content that subliminally walks
the user at a self-serving path. These actions can be regarded as unethical or may be
unprofessional based on their extent of deception.