Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ethics and the Internet

The Internet is a fairly new medium, but more importantly, it is not a regulated medium.  This means that there is a lot of room for unethical things to happen on the Internet.  And boy do they happen!

The initial ethical issues that most people worry about are the privacy concerns.  What if someone gets my password?  What if they can log into my Internet banking?  Here is a website that lists a lot of similar worries.  Notice that exploitation of internet workers is not listed.

My ethical concern with the Internet is regarding the finances and exploitation of the workers.  Thankfully, the largest payers in the Internet game (Google as an example) have used their powers for good: offering free service, being transparent and valuing their employees.  However, could you imagine if the people who ran America's banks were instead running America's search engines or servers?  Yikes!

My contention is about the business of blogs, forums and websites, aka web 2.0 or social media.  There is no standardization or protection or regulation.  A web developer could therefore charge whatever price they want to develop a site-which is great.  But at the same time-there are no protections for developers, or bloggers when corporations are misguided about the value they offer.  

There are many corporations and decision makers that don't understand development or social media/web 2.0, and therefore don't want to pay for the work being done.  My concern is the ethical implications of a non-regulated internet-not for privacy concerns, but for the exploitation of the work that people are doing for companies that do not want to pay for it.  

Brands are getting endorsements by bloggers, often without pay, yet at the same time, the brands or corporations balk at the idea of actually paying a blogger to immerse the company in web 2.0.

I foresee corporations trying to take all that they can from social media, without paying for the work or the endorsements, and that to me is unethical.  

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