Media Ethics for Online and Social Media

ETHICS for ethical media practices in the context of Online and Social Media


  1. Introduction

The Online and Social Media constitute the major component of the life of people in terms of news, information exchange, gathering information, banking, shopping etc., Unlike the traditional media, in spite of restrictions is the usage of Online media well within the stipulated regulations and ethical? Does interacting in Social media cause social, regulatory , commercial and legal issues? How far is the awareness among the public on the ethical backgrounds, the principles governing this media and the regulations? This paper analyzes the ethics along with the standards and regulations.

  1. Online and Social Media

Media is a term which represented the print & the radio in the olden times. With the growth of technology many other media have emerged based on the internet. Most recently, with the invention of smart phones the media has broadened its scope or it can be viewed as the media has witnessed a new dimension to reach mass audiences.

  1. Ethics

The increase in the internet usage and the internet access in computers as well as mobile phones and smart phones have vitalized the growth of Social & the Online Media. Official UAE census data of Global Media Journal estimates Internet penetration at 82.2%, which is higher than in the United States. The social media is a common platform for information exchange. The reach in multitude makes it necessary for the ethics to be followed. Media Ethics was once considered a quality to be followed by the journalists and the reporters. But today it becomes important for each and every individual making use of Social and Online Media to be ethical. This paper analyzes the extent of ethics that is being adapted.

3.1. Ethics on Online & Social media

The Online & Social media is a platform which is common to one and all. Our personal network, our professional network or any other unknown sources constitute the audience of the Social media. The journalists or the reporters are responsible for the content delivered through the Print or the Broadcasting media. But when it comes to the Social & Online media every individual who shares information becomes responsible. NPR Ethics handbook, 2012 states that the probability of access to the internet is also high owing to the cost reduction .Most importantly, the frequency of usage of the social media is very high. Hence the probability of disclosing unethical content is relatively high.

3.2. Ethics on Social, Commercial, Legal, Regulatory and Cultural factors

The Online and the Social Media have a direct impact on the society. The information sharing and the freedom of access with anyone and everyone has definitely shaked the institution of a family. The frequent update of information on the growth and achievements cause an internal stress for the segment of the society that has not witnessed growth at all or a relative growth. The reach to the Mass has interested many of the commercial institutions to utilize the Social Media for their business development and marketing. This has opened more doors to any business but at the same time presents a huge competition. According to NPR ethics handbook (2012 ),the society has no way to estimate or to analyze the genuinity of the information or the authenticity of the company as information comes with an unknown author. Consequently, the fake information posted about a specific company or brand on the Social media could also lead to legal problems.

Every individual has a close group of friends/ relatives, the next level would be professional friends and then the acquaintances, employers etc., The level of intimacy and the extent of information sharing is not the same in each level. The unnecessary information sharing also is unethical.

According to Vallor,Shannon (2012) as employees of an organization, they have a limit in disclosing the information pertaining to the company, the products etc., to be ethical in their approach. The Online and Social media are used by the employees to voice out their personal opinions on the products/ regulations etc., which is unethical. Individuals have their own likes, dislikes, interests and these personal preferences could result in bias towards the people, products, organizations. This bias could either be positive or negative and this is used to influence the people in the Online and Social Media.

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The children and the teenagers have started using the Social and the Online Media. The Social media has age restrictions but the extent to which it is being followed is highly uncertain. The Wikipedia (2014) states that the personal and confidential information is being disclosed without awareness and they are being preyed upon by the people engaged in unwanted activities resulting in sexual abuse. The elders, in the other hand, are connected to the media through the electronic gadgets and seldom find time for their family.

The Online and Social Media give way to cross culture . Cross culture is a salient feature in terms of business but at the same time has a negative impact on the society. Wail. A. Barry, Gwen Bouvier (2011) state that the private or intimate information is brought to public by the unethical use of social media . Every country has a culture, belief structure , values, religion associated with it. The Social Media enhances the awareness of various cultures , religions but sometimes the cultural difference could create an impact on the society. What is correct in a country may seem to wrong in the other country.

  1. Ethics in the world & UAE.

The Online and Social media have kept the whole world connected throughout and has facilitated information exchange, information updation etc,. but at the same time the ethical factors like freedom ,integrity, secrecy are not measurable.

In an interview (, 2014) Linda Chandears, President of Daniels Fund states that the children use Social media without proper awareness and get into problems which persist for their lifetime. Also Elliott (, 2014) underlines the fact that Social media came into existence without proper regulations and has been the prime cause of cyber crimes. The information or images posted by the people themselves and sometimes by the peer group has completely shattered the personal and also professional lives. This calls for practicing ethics both in the personal and professional lines and to maintain appropriateness whilst using Social Media .The awareness to maintain ethics in the Social media as well has started and people have started evolving their social media practices .

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In the UAE, the country as a whole is well connected digitally .The survey indicated 78% of the country’s population had regular Internet access, and that almost half had an account on a social media websites (ibid ). UAE has its own laws and ethics with respect to religion, culture, traditions , beliefs etc.,A TRA person in his interview to UAE Emirates Business 24-7 that any social media that allows interaction without disturbing the country and fellowmen mentally or physically with respect to their values will be allowed. The other sites which cause harm or degrade the society as a whole or specifically children, women etc., are blocked.

These studies reveal that the Social and online media are equally gaining predominance in the UAE too and the factors governing media ethics have to be given significant importance too.

  1. Principles and standards

The basic factors that have to be considered when using a Social Media constitute the principles of Social Media. Jon Reed (2014) describes the information that is delivered in the social media needs to be authentic as it is viewed by the community and cannot be misleading.

Social media can be used for marketing but the basic approach towards the social media and the other traditional media has to be different. Building a community in the social media is a lengthy process and more importantly earning reliability as well as trust worthiness is the clue to success. The results in the case of a social media marketing does not happen immediately and the kind of waiting is worth it. The ICCO (2011) clearly specifies that the Social media has been in action for quite some years now and cannot continue in the trial period . The norms have to clear and factual for the customers . The control over the social media and the social media marketing will only enhance confidence on the media. The criteria have to be designed after getting inputs across the line. Different criteria with different standards puzzle the customer and it is time to break various criteria and dwell on a single factor. This helps easier understanding and the results can also be well monitored. This standardization helps in understanding the Social media in complete and to develop and invent methods for the better future.

This standardization helps in Social media becoming a constitutive part of the company’s marketing agenda. Overcoming the shortcomings or the misleading factors of the Social media helps in getting utmost clarity and to boost the customers’ confidence levels. In the recent past many companies have been engaged in the tracking of social media basically to understand the functioning and the outcome. These companies also are deriving methods to measure the output levels to improve the marketing strategies or to establish innovative methods for brand building. The Social media sites , their reach, the accuracy, the relative momentum, the passion attached to the sites etc., are analyzed to formulate scientifically measurable marketing processes. The opportunity in the Social media is commendably high owing to the omnipresence , the universal acceptance and the extreme passion attached to them.The challenge is to develop a unique solution to meet the specific needs of the customer rather than standardizing. The traditional media have specific methods to measure the reach, frequency etc., whereas the Social media is yet to develop exact methods

The recent aids used in close monitoring are

  • Attending closely/Tracking
  • Social interaction study
  • Impacting study/ focusing
  • Competing standards
  • Website Usage study
  • Network traffic/ topic analysis
  • Quest Analysis
  • Inclination study

The methods seem to be simple but it is actually not owing to multiple factors that influence Social Media. The organizations using social media need clarity in the objective and the result expected for the companies to reach a consensus as to accordingly develop a strategy. Appraising the characteristic perspective and in terms of size and number are equally important for accuracy in results. These methods inspect the groups and the interaction perspective to clearly analyze and measure returns.

The success of social media depends on the group size and the person who can lead the group. But the probability of accessing the groups and the members is very low. More importantly the openness of the individuals and the extent to which they will stand by the opinion is still a controversy. These aids and methods have to be tested over time to attain accurate methods. The false notion of most of the companies is measuring outcome by counting the number of likes in a social media. The number of likes even though indicates the number of people who actually visited the site is not an accurate way of audited reach.

The key is to understand what percentage of the total people who have visited the site would fall into the potential targeted audience and the skill lies in identifying the same.

Edelman Berland (2014) states that the organizations are not aware of the trends in Social Media and yet are much interested to be present in Social media to stick on to the technological upgradations. They look out for advice from adepts in the field and subsequently demand clarity in the methods used. The global need is to develop standards and continuous work has been in progress.

  1. Conclusion

From the time Social media came into existence, there has not been much ethics in the Online and Social Media. The factors like Social impact on the society, cyber crimes , Social media marketing have started focusing on the importance of the Ethics. The regulations in place require an updation based on the developments in technology. There are specific instances where the existing laws require amendments . These ongoing changes in laws, regulations can be monitored closely. The need for global standards and the regulations for the social media has been understood and the organizations are thriving to get advice on the Social media trends and processes. These standards in a global level will definitely create a benchmark in the Social and the Online Media.

6. References

  1. Vallor,Shannon 2012, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy//
  2. Sharlyn Lauby, 2012, Ethics and Social Media: Where Should You Draw The Line? //
  3. Global Media Journal Arabian Edition Summer/Fall Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 3-27 , Use of Social Media in the United Arab Emirates //
  4. Social Media in Wikipedia //
  5. by Fish Eye Analytics, 2013 //
  6. McAfee, Parent’s Guide to Social Networking Sites //
  7. Jon Reed, 2014, 7 Principles of Social Media Marketing //
  8. Tim Marklein, Practice Leader, Technology & Analytics, WCG; Co-chair, Council of PR Firms Measurement Committee,Katie Delahaye Paine, founder and CEO of KDPaine & Partners LLC ,Richard Bagnall, MD Metrica, Director Gorkana Group, 2011, ICCO Moving Towards Global Standards for Social Media Measurement, //
  9. Edelman Berland, Blog, //
  10. Nelson Garcia, KUSA , 2014,  //
  11. NPR Ethics handbook, 2012, //,
  12. Wail. A. Barry, Gwen Bouvier, 2011, Cross cultural Communication //



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