Friday, January 18, 2013

Privacy, Ethics, and Legalities

Social media has changed the ways in which we communicate with people everywhere. What used to be a telephone conversation has turned into commenting on a status update on Facebook or replying to a tweet. Information can be easily shared with just the click of a button. The only problem is once you click that button, whatever you've posted is now open for all those in the web-o-sphere to see…for good.

Online privacy is a controversial issue these days, especially dealing with advertising companies gaining access to different websites’ databases. Advertisers then use the information from the databases to strategize and focus their ads toward a specific target audience.Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is, but there are some people out there who think this sort of practice is positively blasphemous. For this reason, it is important to know that once you place information online, that information automatically has a chance of being taken and used by someone else for some kind of purpose such as advertising.

Another issue we face with social media is ethics. More people who are actively involved with social media believe questionable behaviors, such as commenting negatively about their company on social media sites, are acceptable. As social media becomes more and more important in our culture, it is necessary to be aware of ethical pitfalls and how to avoid them. Here are a few tips to help you stay as ethical as possible:
·        Always be honest and transparent. If you are hiding any kind of information, it reflects poorly on your character.
·        Know exactly how to portray yourself or your company through social media. Your online personality is often viewed as your physical personality, so make sure not to post anything questionable.
·        Make sure all of the information you present online is accurate and correct. Be careful of potential legal issues such as defamation.

Legal issues are also important to note when discussing social media. There are hundreds of social media lawsuits settled in court yearly. And let’s not forget about the out of court settlements. MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter are a few social media companies who have gotten into legal trouble repeatedly. Here are a few things to do in order to stay aware of social media legal issues:
·        Draw a bold and distinct line between personal and professional accounts. Don’t mix the two.
·        Know the social media policies and keep up with them if/when they change.
·        Be privy to the knowledge of legal issues and how to use technologies. Knowing what you’re up against is imperative in being social media savvy.

I hope these tips will help you understand social media better and allow you to become more knowledgeable on social media privacy and ethics. Thanks for reading and have a great day! 

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