Topic 4: Reflection on Ethics

This topic was ostensibly about the ethical issues that are attached to business and educational use of social media. Oddly, at the end of the exercise, I’ve concluded that it is we, as individuals, who have the critical role in ensuring companies, individuals and educational establishments act appropriately. Companies respond to their customer’s demands – if their customers use the internet to call for change, then I suspect this will result in quicker action than any government or legislative pronouncement. We have a moral imperative to criticise the wrong doer. However, last semester Nabeel Siddiqui took a very different view, noting that ‘businesses, whether they are present online or physically, are not people. Morality and ethics are secondary concerns to most profit-seeking businesses.’ Personally, I agree with Din J’s views, who stated that the root cause of the problem is that ‘humans are known to be lazy and naïve’ In other words, we have the tools to improve internet’s morality – but do we care enough to do so? (Din’s blog also likened his ability to blog to an elephant’s ability to skip rope.)

As a result, the questions that I posted on Hayley Matthew’s and Leigh Ravenhill’s blogs were designed to check if they thought that they have a responsibility to ensure that employees (companies, after all, are nothing more than a collection of people) are challenged when they act inappropriately.

Otherwise, I find myself staggered by the variety of approaches our community has taken to the same question. That said, a common theme that cropped up was the need for companies to provide their employees with guidance on what is appropriate/inappropriate use of the internet. Again, I was amazed, this time, because my generation, that is supposed to be enjoying expanded freedoms because of the internet, is looking to be told how to behave. If we don’t know, deep down, what is right and wrong, then something is very wrong with our moral compass. So in a sense one of the key learning points I’ve taken from this module concerns human behaviour.  Humans have always wanted to look outside themselves for guidance on what is right and wrong, and we don’t seem not to have changed much.

Ethics, but whose ethics?

Each member of our blogging community has been asked to complete a retrospect after each topic. But we are also being prompted to share thoughts as we work, i.e. to share before, during and after.

Naturally I’ve taken to looking at what was produced last semester. I was really impressed by Sophie Collins’ use of Prezi, and decided the only way I can better it is to add sound – I’ve achieved this using an online tool which turns text into spoken word, where you can choose between different accents! Otherwise, having looked back, I’ve decided that I didn’t want to simply do an update of someone else’s work.

So, strangely, the way I’ve approached this question was inspired by Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking by the BBC. I love Top Gear and am now in mourning so I asked myself whether the views expressed by the public on the BBC social media sites should influence their decision, and if they did give in to public pressure, whether this was ethically correct.

My question is as follows:

Companies use social media to tell customers about themselves, their products and their values. But this is a two way process, the public can use this communication channel to criticise actions that they see as wrong, unethical or immoral. In some instances there can be a snowball effect and the voice of the public becomes so loud that the company has to alter the way it works.

In the first of these two presentations I’ll look at some examples of where companies have been attacked on their own social media platforms. And the second presentation will look at the ethical issues.


I’ve put together the following video to explore a moral dilemma, I’d be interested to hear your views:


Tools used:



Generic: z4WEyA

Last semesters work cited:

Sophie Collins,

Adam Stiles,

References used in case study:



Marie Claire,