General Ethical Practices Online
Ms. Elaine Marcilla
Good day everyone! My name is Elaine Marcilla and today I will be doing a presentation on general ethical practices online. Ethics is the study of the basic concepts and fundamental principles of human conduct. Being ethical means being faced with options and choosing the option that is morally right, or that option which aligns with your moral principles.
First, I will be discussing some guiding principles in being ethical that will hopefully help you reflect and start being critical of your decisions online.
So, Mike Ribble developed the key elements of Digital Citizenship, which is the term they use to define responsible use of technology, and I found them to be very useful for our purposes.
R. E. P.
Respect, educate and protect.
Number one is respect. We all need to remember that our use of technology can and will affect others. So, always remember to respect others the way you want to be respected.
Number two is educate. We learn new things on the internet everyday but we need to keep in mind that not everything we see online is correct. We should always be critical of everything that we see online.
Number three, and last but not the least, is protect. We all need to be aware of our rights and responsibilities when using technology. So, always be on guard and be responsible for your own security.
Next, I want us to go through the 10 Commandments for Computer Ethics which was introduced by Ramon Barquin in an attempt to create a set of standards to guide others.
Don’t harm other people. Don’t post that insulting comment on another person’s post. You never know what harm your hurtful words can cause.
Don’t interfere with other people’s work. So, don’t cheat on a competitive game just because you don’t want to lose. Rewards should be earned on your own, and not by stepping on others.
Don’t snoop around in other people’s files. Don’t read your friend’s facebook messages just because your friend forgot to log out
Don’t steal, don’t lie. Don’t pretend to be someone else just so you can ruin someone’s reputation. Posting untrue things about someone, or even just posting without confirming the information’s validity, can cause huge problems for the other person
Don’t use pirated software or appropriate someone else’s work. If you want to use something, pay for it or ask permission. It’s not fair to the creators otherwise. You don’t know how much effort they put into that.
And lastly, always think about the consequences and ensure consideration and respect for others.
These rules may be simple and for a lot of people, common sense, and they are. However, it’s always important to build your foundation on basic principles. Sometimes, a good solid reminder is all that we need.
Now, why is it so difficult to be ethical online?
There is this thing called the Online Disinhibition Effect. This refers to the lack of restraint one feels when communicating online compared to communicating in person. There are two kinds: benign and toxic. Benign online disinhibition refers to behaviour in which people might self-disclose more on the internet than they would in real life, or go out of their way to help someone or show kindness. Toxic disinhibition, on the other hand, describes behavior that includes rude language, threats, and other inappropriate behavior that a person would generally not do in real life.
A lot of people do unethical things online because they don’t think of the implications of what they are doing. A big part of this is being anonymous online. It’s easy to believe that “no one will know what you do online”. There is less fear of detection and thus, less fear of punishment.
Moreover, communications online are more impersonal. It makes it difficult to see and feel the impact you have on other people. In person, when you insult someone, you can easily see on their face that they’re hurt. There’s no such thing online because we are all behind our computer screens. This leads to a lack of empathy which then leads to bad behaviour online.
But what kind of bad behaviour can we see online?
Here are some of the unethical practices you may encounter online:
First, flaming or flame wars. These are online fights with offensive and hostile language. It’s normal for people to disagree, but because of the lack of inhibitions online, some people can take it too far.
Second, cyberbullying. This is the repeated electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person. Cyberbullying can be just as harmful as bullying in real life. Due to the prevalence of social media, information travels fast. A viral tweet can lead to thousands of people acting like they know you and commenting hateful things. We live in a society where people get outraged over the simplest things, where anything you say can be misconstrued to be offensive.
Third, internet trolling or posting inflammatory messages online in order to upset people and sow discord. There is no reasoning with trolls. The best practice is just to refuse to engage with them and report them.
Fourth, hacking or unauthorized intrusion into a computer or network. This doesn’t just mean professional hackers. Games can also be hacked with cheat codes. Don’t do it, especially when playing multiplayer games. Earn your wins.
Fifth, pirating or plagiarizing or copying and using other people’s work without permission. Going back to the general principles, always pay or ask permission first.
Sixth, sending spam or irrelevant and unsolicited messages. No one wants their important mail to be buried under insignificant ones.
Seventh, impersonation or pretending to be someone else and posting material to get that person in trouble. You can ruin a person’s reputation this way. You wouldn’t want anyone to post fake news about you, would you?
Eighth, and lastly, cyberstalking or repeated, intense harassment which induces stress and creates significant fear. Checking your crush’s facebook, or instagram, or twitter, is not what’s contemplated here. This refers to actual harassment through these platforms and frightening the other person.
So, what should you do?
There has been a few social media campaigns with this phrase: “think before you click”. It is still very relevant today. Awareness is key. Be critical of everything on the internet. Before you click that post button, make sure you’re being responsible. Go through the guiding principles again and ask yourself: “if I were the person I’m sending this to, how would I feel?”
Always remember: Respect, educate and protect.
You can also go back to the 10 Commandments for computer ethics in the previous slides. You should understand yourself and be conscious of all your decisions. Always keep the unethical practices and their consequences in mind. Do not engage in unethical practices. Instead, if you see these practices online, just report them.