This article is written by Kunal Jain, a student pursuing BBA.LLB from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article deals with the issues of Role of Ethics in Media and Technology.
Table of Contents
Ethics is a branch of philosophy which seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right or wrong, etc. The topic technology, media and ethics relay emphases on the core values of ethics in this digital world, in media and its impact on society because when comes to technological developments, it has several impacts on our day-to-day lives. These impacts economically, socially & educationally affect our daily lives.
Ethics of technology
Ethics of technology is a field of ethics relating specifically on the ethical questions specific to the technological advances, including its alternatives, benefits, risks & limitations & most of all its immediate & long-range impacts on the society. It seeks to understand and resolve the moral issues that surround the development and practical application of mechanical and electronic technology. Techno-ethics is a term related to technology and ethics which focuses on discovering the ethical use of technology, protecting against the misuse of technology, and hence making an understanding of common principles to guide new advances in technological development. The ethical use of new technology is important in society today, particularly in areas where technological advances have a transforming effect on society and the best example is digital media and social media which in today’s world has a great impact on the society because a maximum number of people are affected by technology nowadays. Ethical problems increase as technological advances happen because technology provides numerous opportunities for action for which well thought out ethical policies might have not been developed.
A company can collect all the related information the users put on any social networking site & can use that information to target advertising to them. The same information can be sold and used to sway political opinions as well.
Examples- Facebook & Faceapp
As social media have become a primary mode of expression and communication for almost everyone in the world such social media widely used is Facebook which now stores almost everyone’s private information about where their place of residence, photos, family details, etc. well Facebook advertises different software, applications, etc. one such application is face app, there is an obligation on Facebook that how can it allow third party access your Facebook Id including all your personal information because by clicking on the agree to terms button face app can access too much and much more of the data form Facebook.
This is because our relationship with technology creates new opportunities for action and raises new ethical considerations that did not exist previously and that’s why techno-ethics provides a unique theoretical foundation to extend existing relation between technology and ethics. Ethics of technology is ethics applied to technical domains and domains depending heavily on technology.
Ethical issues surrounding business, technology, and personal data
The digital space provides us with a vast expanse of data and information on a domain that is easily accessible to all through all and as such ethical aspects with regards to the data get threatened or sold. Well, we see all the benefits of having all the information at our fingertips but it has a deep downside as well. The fact is just that technology has put our personal information at the fingertips of almost all the businesses of the world. Many organizations collect data for their own purposes, but that data is sold many times to different organizations and has become an income stream for many organizations. Companies monitor customers and collect as much information in the name of security. Ethical issues arise when they continuously monitor their customer’s activity like browsing habits. This information is then sold, and so the people who know about your browsing habits can also discover your deepest secrets.
Example- If a woman is pregnant she might go up for something online and by the moment she makes pregnancy-related searches her information is surveilled by the company within seconds she will be identified by the companies watching her and then her profile is shared multiple times and the process of selling then begins after a while she will then find herself with a lot of ads related to pregnancy.
In some areas like these such applications of technology start infringing on the rights of individuals and maybe unethical in nature.
Educating our “selves”: the ethics of technology
The article showcases the relationship between ethics and technology. The article also relays emphases on Aristotle’s beliefs. The article also talks about Technological advances which continue to offer a fruitful site to investigate the effects of ethics on a present-day scenario such that it seeks to understand and resolve moral issues that surround the development and practical application of technology. The article also an emphasis on how technology can influence the way we live also is it possible to know the potential consequences of those actions.
As I mentioned above in the theme “Ethics of Technology” in the example of Facebook and face app that Facebook leaked a lot of information and for that, there are a lot of potential consequences we cannot blame the face app as before entering everyone has agreed to the terms and conditions of the app and hence unknowingly we allowed it to access is private information such harmful that the face app can even post on your timeline and actually that shows how much information the Facebook has leaked to a third party application. As I said above this is totally ethically wrong.
Ethics of Media
Media ethics is one of the divisions of ethics which deals with the specific principles and standards which media must follow, including broadcast media, film, theatre, arts, etc. Digital media ethics has sought nothing less than to address the ethical issues evoked by technological advances. Media ethics does involve promoting and defending all the values such as universal respect for life and rule of law and legality. The fundamental objective of journalism is to facilitate people with all the news and information on matters of public interest in a fair as well as accurate in an unbiased and decent manner and language. Ethics tells us about the collecting and disseminating the information, ensuring the authenticity of that news, using socially acceptable language while keeping just this in mind that how this will impact the society because with the advancement of technology or digital media has a great impact on the society. Ethics emphasizes standards of decency in today’s technologically advanced media journalism such as media should not discriminate or to inflame hatred on grounds of nationality, religion or to prejudge the guilt of an accused without the actual judgement of the court. Ethics also emphasizes the right for privacy because such acts may endanger people which should not happen.
Journalism scandals are one such included incidents which are either intentional or accidental but run contrary to the generally accepted ethics of media. News can be manipulated according to the needs, images & videos can be manipulated. Corporations, as well as the governments, may attempt to manipulate the news and also media sometimes manipulate the way public officials conduct themselves. Since anything that is shown on TV or printed in newspapers is considered the truth nowadays.
Media should practice generally accepted core values of ethics but almost at times, the media fails to follow them. Core values emphasized on media ethics be:-
- Honesty and fairness: duty of media to not falsify any information published as it will affect the society as a whole because media plays an important role in shaping opinions, beliefs and individuals.
Example: The Daily Mail (London Based News Outlet): – The news was found guilty of publishing a false statement regarding a global leader spending billions of dollars to combat global warming based on manipulated data. But after that, it was forced to publish a lengthy note at the beginning of the article to clarify their mistake.
- Respect for Privacy: media should respect the privacy of an individual as it can seriously affect the person’s life. Ethics emphasizes the duty not to endanger people.
Example: Case “Ride Along” Wilson vs. Layne- The Supreme Court scolded the media for a perceived inattention to the privacy rights because the presence of reporters inside the Wilsons’ home was not at all related to the objectives of the authorized intrusion. Media should really think of respecting the privacy of an individual as these are ethical policies.
- Duty not to use dishonest means to obtain information.
- Duty not to prejudge the guilt of an accused and to publish the dismissal of charges against or acquittal of anyone about whom the paper previously had reported that charges had been filed or that a trial had commenced because as media has an influence on people it makes their judgement on the basis of information provided by the media.
Example: In a court of law justice should be proved beyond reasonable doubt and not by emotion but by media prejudging puts a lot of pressure on the judgement from a judge who is under tremendous pressure from all sections of the society.
- Duty not to publish offensive materials: ethics relays emphases on media not to inflame hatred on such grounds as race, nationality, etc. media should cover general standards of decency and taste.
Example: The Huffington Post- The Huffington Post published a blog arguing that trump supporters “deserve to die” but it was deleted later. This post was totally against the core values of ethics.
Digital age 2.0 and its challenges on media ethics
The article relays emphasis on challenges on media ethics due to the evolution of technology. The articles main objectives are the main concerns I mentioned in the above-mentioned theme “Ethics of Media” that is right to privacy, right of access to information, what ethical problems related with the evolution of media from traditional to online publishing. Online newspaper, websites, podcast etc. are all examples of digital media. Digital platform raises ethical challenges for both professionals and citizens like privacy such that media should respect the privacy of an individual.
As discussed in the case of “Ride Along” in which the Supreme Court found media guilty of infringing the privacy of Mr Wilson as is discussed in this article stating the UN general assembly decision concerning of increasing concern and thus reaffirming the human right to privacy.
As again discussed above the honesty and fairness the article relays digital manipulation of photos and videos and thus giving a misrepresentation as mentioned above in the case of “The Daily Mail (London Based News Outlet)”.
Ethics involves promoting and defending all the values such as universal respect for life and rule of law and legality. But With the advancement of technology, digital media has come into existence and with this, it is creating new challenges to the core traditional ethical values. The code of ethics is widely accepted in digital media as media ethics but it is often seen that media fails to perform the set code of ethics and performs activates which might endanger an individual, sometimes media infringes the right to privacy of person which is both ethically and morally wrong but they do so in order to increase their channels or publications ratings as in fact sometimes they also misrepresent information. All these increase challenges to ethics but the rules laid down by the government protects these rights and thus maintains the set code of ethics. Right to privacy is one which protects the rights of people so that no one even the media can infringe them or else harsh punishments would be given just to protect the moral and ethical right.
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