Week 9: Ethics

This post is the twelfth in a series for a graduate course called Theory and Audience Analysis. For the course, I will be posting weekly questions and follow-up analysis about the various readings we are assigned. This post delves deeper into the topic of ethics in new media.

This week we are reading various articles on ethics and in particular the topics of privacy in social media and anonymity/pseudonyms.

In my undergrad senior capstone, Journalism Ethics and Issues, I wrote my final paper on the role new media like blogging and online forums were playing in the complicated world of anonymity in journalism. It’s a topic I find very intriguing especially with the increased prevalence of social media in our daily lives.

I haven’t ever worried too much about privacy concerns personally, I generally (with maybe the exception of my freshman year of college… yikes!) have always post items online with the thought process of “What if this was public?”It raises the question though of do we take for granted the value of our privacy? With people growing up in a world where there private life is made public, even if it is “mediated public,” since the day they are born through their parents’ and eventually their own pages on social networks like Facebook; what does this mean for a world where private lives become smaller and smaller? What does it mean when we let a for-profit company like Facebook dictate the rules of what is and isn’t private? Where is the line between the reality of private lives and the often falsified or glorified-face of public lives?

In regards to the mandate of real-name use on Facebook and Google+, it’s not something I completing agree with. I think anonymity has its place, especially when you look at the importance of it in the uprisings and protests in the Middle East. But I also think Facebook has become as successful as it is because it is centered on people using their real identity to connect. If it was filled with a bunch of pseudonyms, then wouldn’t it just be another MySpace? Use of real names in online conversation doesn’t necessarily equal civility, but perhaps accountability?

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