Exploring the ethics of Social Networking Sites

New research investigates privacy issues on Facebook
By: Emerald Group Publishing
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Nov. 25, 2010 - PRLog -- United Kingdom, November 2010 – Emerald journal Information Technology & People has published new research that explores the ethical responsibility of Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook.  In a paper entitled “Ethics and Social Networking Sites: A Disclosive Analysis of Facebook”, researchers explain that considering the moral codes inscribed in  technology, in addition to the moral behaviour of users, allows us to raise some of the ethical concerns surrounding the lack of transparency in SNS.

The article highlights how mediating privacy issues is becoming more and more difficult. Authors Ben Light and Kathy McGrath studied Facebook over two years. Light describes how “the privacy settings have gone further and further away into the background on Facebook as it has evolved”. With over 500 million active users in July 2010, Facebook users can find that if they do not adopt the necessary privacy settings, it may have serious consequences such as cyberstalking and identity theft.

As existing research continues to focus on the ethical behaviour of the user, in isolation from the moral character of the technology, Light and McGrath comment, “Developers don’t always know how the technology is going to work in practice, and the users don’t, so it becomes a case of: “whose moral obligation is it? Is it the users? Is it the developers?”

The article appears in Information Technology & People, Volume 23 Issue 4 available online in mid November. It is available online at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/itp.htm

About the Authors:
Ben Light is Professor of Digital Media in the School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford.  His research concerns the appropriation of configurable technologies with a specific focus upon digital media.  Kathy McGrath is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at Brunel University in West London. Her research focuses on the relationship between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and socio-organizational change.

About the journal
Information Technology & People is published by Emerald Group Publishing, a leading independent publisher of global research with impact in business, society, public policy and education.  Privacy is one of many areas covered by the journal Information Technology & People, which explores the intricate relationship between technology and social forms. Now in its 23rd volume the journal has recently been accepted by Thompson Reuters (ISI) and will receive its first impact factor in 2012.
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