Social media is being integrated in our everyday lives at a rapid pace. Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace have become a channel for social interaction, personal identification and network building among society. A student’s life would be unthinkable without Facebook and small to medium businesses for example food trucks would suffer without the enormity of audience volume of social media. These companies have evolved people’s lives and business in successful ways, the question remains to ask on how these companies are to remain profitable from individuals using their services.
As Facebook remains to be the top social media portal, the company has many obstacles to overcome when it comes to ethical issues regarding security and privacy. Facebook has essentially become a personal identification database. This is very disconcerting as personal information can easily be accessed or recognized using Facebook. In the past, the company has faced protest and government action as it has practiced unfair and deceptive business research practices. The unethical research behavior issue at hand has to do with privacy concerns with its users.
The problem involved has to do with users being unaware on how Facebook manages its personal information. The company conducted deceptive practices by not warning user’s that certain personal information was made public record, which was set to be private by the user. In other results, Facebook, which has almost a billion users worldwide, had allowed advertisers to glean personally identifiable information when a Facebook user clicked on an advertisement on his or her Facebook page. The injured party in facebook’s security and privacy breach is the user.
The user has personal information that is only intended for his or her private forum. The user should be notified if any personal information is being viewed in a public forum. Also advertiser should not have the capabilities of tracking user information even though the user clicks on advertisements belonging to the company. As a result, the ability to track someone should be off limits. Social media has become a portal for personal information and can be viewed as a spy machine. This in turn could have reckless affects against the user and consumer.
The unethical behavior has affected the organization, individual, and society in a spectrum of events. The organization or Facebook was investigated by the Federal Trade commission and was given a settlement that could result in fines. The government did not find that Facebook intentionally broke the law but must respect the privacy wishes of its users and must adhere to privacy audits the next 20 years. However, within the organization, Facebook potentially could have lost users and faced protest from society for certain products that were resulting in privacy and security concerns.
In a report of 23 internet service companies, the watchdog organization Privacy international charged Facebook with severe privacy flaws and put it in the second lowest category for “substantial and comprehensive privacy threats” (“A race to the bottom”, 2007) As an individual, the company’s unethical behavior is disconcerting and should be more thoroughly recognized when using the Facebook’s service. Potentially the information viewed and received can report a lot of about people’s behavior and actions that could lead to further investigation.
In a rather benign example, a police officer resorted to searching Facebook after witnessing a case of public urination outside a fraternity house at University of Illinois. Once on Facebook, the officer found the man he was looking for and cited the individual a $145. 00 ticket for public urination. (Dawson, 2007) Additionally, the Patriot Act allows state agencies to bypass privacy settings on Facebook in order to look up potential employees. (NACE spotlight online, 2006) The unethical behavior by Facebook has given society a reason to be concerned about the personal information that they may deem as irravalent data.
Facebook or the internet for that matter is a spy machine that collects data and can be viewed to the public for research. As technology evolves, a new wave of computer hacking tools will develop using personal information from social media portals. In a experiment by Missouri student Charlie Rosenbury, who wrote a computer program that enable him to invite 250,000 people to be his friend and 30 percent added him to be his friend. (Jump, 2005) Simarily, the IT firm Sophos set up a fake profile to data mine “friends” for the purpose of identity theft.
They found that out of 200 contacted people, 41 percent revealed personal information by either responding to the contact or immediately befriending the fake persona. (Sophos Facebook ID, 2007) The unethical behavior could be avoided or resolved by having safer business practices. Facebook is attempting to profit by large margins from its users for advertisement. The company has at present a billion users that could dangle to advertisers for the benefit of profiting in large scales. Facebook has not found a model to ethically keep users information private and maximize on the personal information of its users.
Courtney from Study Moose
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