Ethical issues concern the conduct of moral principles developed by behaving in a correct and honest way. This week, I will discuss the ways in which unethical misuse of social media by business employees may negatively damage business reputation, while also addressing how misinterpretation of social media content by such employees may lead to unjustified job losses.
On one hand, it appears that employees exposing business confidentially on social media is entirely unethical. For example, a Lacoste employee lost his job after he posted a picture of his pay-check on Instagram to show his frustration at his low wage compared to the high costs of living. Johnson (2016) states that as a representative of a company it is within the moral duty of employees to promote the reputation of the business, rather than tarnish it. The same applies to employees that speak negatively of their employers on social media, subsequently damaging the business name and often leading to justified dismissal of employees from the company ( Rapacon, 2016).
However, there is a case that social media platforms give a voice to less powerful individuals and it is through such systems that waves of support can form and change can result (Guardian, 2014). Therefore, by employees displaying genuine negative comments on social media they may simply be voicing a true and free opinion that would otherwise be unheard.
Greenwald (2014) makes the point that social media behaves as a tool for “Mass indisrciminent surveillance” that removes individual privacy, making social media less a tool of expression, but rather a site of constant monitoring. This suggest that despite the freedom employed by social media platforms, due to risk of job loss, negative company comments (even if meant harmlessly), should not be displayed on public sites, particularly due to the ease of misinterpretation on social media as seen with the Justine Sacco case.
The TED Talk below emphasises how misinterpretation and the publicity of social media can have detrimental effects.
Ethical considerations concerning freedom of the speech on social media by employers seems to raise a moral dilemma. It seems easy to say that negative posts on social media by company representatives are always unethical. This is particularly true when the reasons for expression for the negativities is not considered such as, employee mistreatment, freedom of speech, or simply a comment made jokingly that was misinterpreted.
Personally, I feel that employees shouldn’t discuss work-related topics on social media. Issues regarding work satisfaction should be addressed formally with company managers instead. From this consideration, I can also recognise the importance of multiple identities as discussed from topic 2.
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Greenwald. G (2014), TED TALK, why privacy matters
Johnson. T (2016) How social media can damage company reputation
Rapacon. S (2016) CNBC, How social media can get you fired
Ronson. J (2015) how one stupid tweet blew up Justine Sacco’s life
Ronson. J (2015) TED TALK, how one tweet can ruin your life
The Guardian (2014) Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger editorial
Williams. V (2015) 8 insane social media posts that got people fired
Image 1 – Dilbert daily strip (2014)
Image 2- self-made using Piktochart
Image 3- self-made using Piktochart