In my posts for topic 2 and topic 3, I considered an aspect of the Justine Sacco incident from 2013 and the risks posed by being a personal presence on social media. In this post I intend to further delve into the ethical aspects of social media, both for individual professionals seeking to use it for business purposes and from the perspective of social media firms.
Firstly, I would like to consider another incidence of public shaming which led to job losses. This particular case occurred at a PyCon event in 2013. Adria Richards sent a tweet accusing two male colleagues of inappropriate behaviour, as a result both men were fired and she herself later lost her job over the incident. (Ronson, 2015)
(Image screen-cap from Twitter, details blurred by me, 2013)
According to Antone Johnson writing for Forbes, this tweet raises several legal problems, due to the fact the conference is in private property, the rights of an individual to take a photo of another individual and publicise it online without any consent are questionable (Johnson, 2013). While the two involved could have been acting inappropriately, the response taken is also inappropriate, and led to pressures against the firm. While you’d like to think these things would be dealt with the same way in or out of the public eye, it is clear that the public pressure leads to different results – a consequence of this being threatening and hateful messages being launched against the firm and Adria. However this also raises another question, should Twitter be in some way responsible for these events on their platform?
(Image made by me, twitter logo sourced from https://brand.twitter.com/en.html)
It could be argued that Twitter should have to do something to prevent these mass lynchings and hateful or even threatening messages being posted on their platform, and while Twitter does have a system for reporting abuse, it could be argued it is too little too late. Currently Twitter is protected by laws relating to common carriers established in the US “Communications Decency Act 1996”, which amended the US code to state “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” This in effect means that any provider of an online platform cannot be held responsible for the actions of others using their platform. I would argue that this is an essential aspect of the online world though, as otherwise running a social platform would be unsustainable for all of the checking firms would have to make before allowing anything to be published at all. (Cornell University Law School, 1998)
Cornell University Law School. 1998 “47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material” (Accessed 26 March 2017)
Johnson, A. 2013 “Was It Appropriate For Adria Richards To Tweet A Photo Of Two Men At PyCon And Accuse Them Of Being Sexist?” (Accessed 26 March 2017)
Ronson, J. 2015 “How one stupid tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s life” (Accessed 26 March 2017)
Featured image made by me, twitter logo sourced from https://brand.twitter.com/en.html