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Online Social Networks and Deontology Essay


When talking about the social networking and the ethical issues concerning the business element in the given sphere, it is most appropriate to consider the existing controversies from the point of deontology, since the latter, according to the definition provided by Brooks & Dunn (2009), “Deontology is different from consequentialism in that deontologists focus on the obligations or duties motivating a decision or actions rather than on the consequences of the actions” (184).

In the case study entitled “Case six. One more look at social networking” and conducted to figure out the probable ethical dilemmas existing in the social networking at present, important remarks concerning the business development in the sphere of social networks have been made.

According to the research, “Social networking web sites have had negative publicity in recent years, due to them being targeted by pornography and predators” (Case six. One more look at social networking, 2006).

In the given case, students split in two teams to engage in fundraising; one of the teams makes use of social networks, while another one resorts to school advertisements, banners, etc. As a result the former team wins, which shows the promotion effect which social networks have.

Thus, an ethical concern appears and the question is raised, whether it is ethical to use commercial sin social networks. Because of the active business development and the commercialization of the social networks, the impact which the latter leaves on the users leaves much to be desired.

The given issue causes for a more detailed consideration of the Australian Computer Society code of ethics and an even more thorough check of whether the current state of affairs can be considered as a deviation from the existing norms.

However, considering the Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics, one can hardly find the statement which can terminally ban the undesirable commercials from the users to observe on the site.

Despite the fact that certain statements can be vaguely related to as the ones that speak against the display of commercials with the inappropriate materials, the situation can be hardly addressed to as a completely clear-cut case.

On the one hand, there are such statements as “3.1. I will not knowingly mislead a client or potential client as to the suitability of a product or service” (Australian Computer Society, 1997) and “4.1.

I will protect and promote the health and safety of those affected by my work” (Australian Computer Society, 1997), which can supposedly be applied to, since the inappropriate information in the commercials can be classified as misleading and harmful for one’s psychological safety.

Nevertheless, the connection between the statements and the claims seems rather vague, which gives the reasons for concern.

Hence, the postulates of deontology should be applied to maintain the balance between the business goals and the usability of the site, which will require a profound theoretical basis.

Since in the given case the customers’ interests and even well-being is involved, it is most reasonable to consider the Kantian ethics as one of the main and the most specific branches of deontology.

As Ward explains, there is a certain connection between the Kantian ethics and that one applied to the social networks. According to Ward (2010) explains, “The tradition of prioritising the analyses of obligation and duty rather than the good flowing from Kant is often called ‘deontological’” (63).

Analyzing the case study in question, one can see distinctly that in the given case, Kant’s principle of Categorical Imperative is neglected. To consider the Kantian principle closer, one must pay a special attention to the explanation provided by Brooks & Dunn (2009):

Kant’s principle indicates that there is a duty or imperative to: always act in such a way that you can also will that the maxim of your action should become a universal law. This means that ‘if you cannot will’ that everyone follows the same rule, your rule is not a moral one. (Brooks & Dunn, 2009, 184)

Considering the case study in question, one can observe that the prior Kantian principle is being neglected in the social networking system, since in the realm of online business, the authors of the numerous commercials create the advertisements which would rather not be seen on any site or any networking service.

As Case six. One more look at social networking (2006) puts it, the researchers are “a bit leery of the use of any social networks as a marketing and promotional tool, because of all the negative publicity some of the web sites have had in the past” (para.13).

After all, “MySpace and Facebook both have terms of use that talk about their noncommercial usage” (Waring & Buchanan, 2010, 20).

However, it must be admitted that, once the content of the advertisements becomes more or less appropriate for the users of all ages and confessions, it is possible that the business in the sphere of social network can exist without any further ethical controversies.

Thus, it can be considered that in the given case of concern for the ethical principles applied in the sphere of social networking and business and the way the given principles can be bent for the sake of economical and financial success, the deontological theory seems the most appropriate.

Rather than focusing in the probable negative results, it establishes the moral principles with the help of which any negative results can be prevented.

Reference List

Australian Computer Society (1997). Values and ideas subscribed to by society members. Web.

Brooks, L. J., & Dunn, P. (2009). Business and professional ethics for directors, executives and accountants. Stamford, CN: Cengage Learning.

Case six. One more look at social networking (2006). Retrieved from

Ward, S. J. A. (2010). Media ethics beyond borders: A global perspective. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Waring, R. L., & Buchanan, R. (2010). Social networking web sites: The legal and ethical aspects of pre-employment screening and employee surveillance. Journal of Human Resources Education, 4(2), 14-23.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Online Social Networks and Deontology'. 11 June.

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