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Facebook is one of the largest social media web pages in the world today. The web page was designed and created by Mark Zuckerberg and his friends while they were still in college. Zuckerberg has, on numerous occasions, claimed that the initial web page was meant to help people in campus share things about school work, but they realized that it could be much bigger than their campus perimeter wall. In order to join Facebook, a user has to create a personal profile. They then use the profile to invite and accept requests from family and friends. The users can then send messages, share pictures and videos and also shop online through that profile created. It suffices to mention that the profile can indeed be deleted if the person decides so. The user will, however, have to give a reason as to why he or she is deleting the account in order to improve services for the rest.
Facebook, like all other companies, has an ethical standing. Indeed, the company has a public statement in its user policy about ethics and related issues. The statement reads that the company has all the rights to use the information that is uploaded by the users for research purposes. It suffices to mention that Facebook has had several cases that touch on ethics over the years. The main argument is usually based on the ethical statement provided. The ethical statement makes business for them very easy. Facebook can use the information provided by the users unknowingly to improve their services and make the business better.
For instance, in 2012, a survey was conducted without user knowledge. The users were given either positive data or negative data to determine how sad and happy news affect the moods of the users. It was concluded that people who saw negative feeds also became negative, giving negative feedback and posting negative statuses. The vice versa was true for people who saw positive feeds. The survey was aimed at improving Facebook as a business; it improved the type of advertisements that the company encouraged and the kind of data people could upload. Additionally, Facebook has been criticized for not having enough ethical rules for the users. For example, the site claims that only people above the age of twelve can join the site. However, the site does not require any official documents showing that the user is above the stipulated age.
Facebook has several ethical responsibilities. The first responsibility is to ensure that the data uploaded in the site is kept safe and private. However, as Zarrella (2010) observes, there are numerous cases of privacy breach by hackers and even Facebook itself. For example, there have been numerous cases where hackers have accessed a person’s profile, sent out messages to con people, and even stolen information that has been used for criminal activities. As mentioned, the company has also used personal data from the users’ profiles to conduct research. This became an ethical problem because they did not inform the users that it was using their data; thus, they did not offer consent. In addition, Facebook has an ethical responsibility and commitment in several other areas. Individuals or companies do marketing.
It is up to Facebook to ensure that what is marketed is focused on the right people. Therefore, Facebook does not allow the marketing of some sensitive products due to its young audience. Facebook does not allow the formation of profiles of people who support terrorism. In fact, the company aids governments in arresting such people (Newson, Houghton & Patten, 2009). In regard to human resources, Facebook has been voted among the best companies to work with. It encourages its employees to use Facebook in order to ensure that the web page is as expected. In addition, Facebook has an ethical responsibility of ensuring that the customers get what they deserve under the supply chain management department. The company claims that the research it does attempt to improve supply chain management.
There are numerous scholars and critics who have contradicted the ethical statement on Facebook’s web page. For example, MacKinnon (2010) reveals that critics have claimed that the research conducted by the company never adheres to the ethical requirements of any research study. The first factor to be cited as wrong and unethical is the lack of consent from the users. Research rules state that the persons of interest, or the people who are to be involved in the research, have first to agree to participate. In addition, the participants have the right to know what the research is about and how the data collected will be used. Similarly, Evans (2010) explains that the user policy in which the ethical statement is pronounced is too vague and general.
Therefore, the company can manipulate the statement to mean whatever they want. For example, saying that Facebook can use the data for research leaves a lot of loopholes. Data can go missing; even if highlighted in other social media, Facebook can still claim that it was part of its research. Additionally, the statement does not give any suggestion on what the data will be used for, how it will be used, and whether people will be informed of the survey. MacKinnon (2010) explains that there are some researches that Facebook has asked for consent from the users. This creates confusion on whether the company values consent or not.
The company has to elaborate its ethical statement further to avoid scandals. This will help people to know what they are getting into when joining Facebook. Additionally, if the company decides that it will not be asking for consent or will be asking for it, the decision has to be stated in the ethical policy. It is also recommended that the user policy of not allowing underage children gain access to the site should be tightened. This can be done by either asking parents to allow their children to join Facebook by creating profiles for them themselves or by asking for age verification. Facebook should also ensure that marketers and advertisers do not bombard the users with advertisements. The ethical responsibility to report any profiles that encourage acts of terrorism and violence should also be tightened.
In conclusion, Facebook has an ethical statement on its web page. However, the statement is very vague and can be manipulated. There are many blunders the company has made that touch on morality. For example, the company has been in the spotlight for undertaking unknown research surveys and using the data collected for its benefit. Doing such a survey is ethically wrong because the participants do not know that they are involved. It is also impossible to know what the data is used for, as the company never says. The vague ethical statement has led the company into any serious legal and ethical problems.
Evans, D. (2010). Social media marketing: the next generation of business engagement. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons. Web.
MacKinnon, B. (2010). Ethics: Theory & contemporary issues – concise edition. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning. Web.
Newson, A. Houghton, D., & Patten, J. (2009). Blogging and other social media: Exploiting the technology and protecting the enterprise. Farnham, England: Gower Publishing. Web.
Zarrella, D. (2010). The social media marketing book. Sebastopol, Canada: O’Reilly Media. Web.