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Ethical issues and social media

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Ethical issues and social media

by Eileen Wisniowicz, Staff Writer, Editor

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The worldwide use of social media platforms continues to grow. “In fact 22% of the world’s total population uses Facebook,” according to online marketing company Worldstream. In a wrap up of social media marketing statistics, the company goes on to say, “On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41% of 18 to 34-year-olds in the US. 51% of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% say they look at the platform several times per day. Over 400 million snaps are shared on Snapchat per day, and almost 9,000 photos are shared every second.”

Along with this increased online social interaction there have been many ethical failures ranging from cyber bullying to easy access to inappropriate content. In response to this, schools and parents continue to discuss ways to teach their students and children about ethics and the etiquette of using social media.

In a 2017 report by Reportlinker it was found that 71% of youths are concerned about the growing issue of cyberbullying. This is a rational concern with statistics showing that 33.8% of students between ages 12 and 17 have reportedly experienced cyberbullying in their lives according to Cyberbullying Research Center’s 2016 report.

This is a worrying statistic for many due to cyberbullying being a more persistent, permanent, and harder to notice form of bullying. It attacks many social media platforms including Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter.

With more inappropriate content being posted on social media platforms, many are calling for a rating system as a possible solution. Since most books, movies, and shows are rated based on a child’s age, there is much support for some type of rating for social media platforms and posts as well.

While some social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram already have some type of rating system in order to deter younger kids from watching inappropriate content, many savvy users have found loopholes.

In order to gain a larger and greater following, creators of the posts will tag their content with false names such as ‘sunset’ or ‘flowers’ in order to attract a wide audience. When unsuspecting users click on a video or post that they believe is innocent, they can instead find inappropriate content ranging from violence to sexual material.

Recently, debates over the ethics of social media and the moderation of social media websites have been under extreme scrutiny with the controversy this month over a post by 22-year old Logan Paul. Paul is a YouTube Vlogger who posted a video of his experience at the infamous suicide forest of Japan.

During his excursion, he came across a victim of suicide, filmed his body, and posted it online to his millions of young followers.

 

As of January 17, METRO News reports Paul’s followers actually increased after the controversial video post with nearly 16-million followers. Senior Carmella Weeg comments on this controversy saying, “as a YouTube influencer Logan Paul should have known better in putting something online that already has a lot of controversy in the real world.” Weeg goes on, “it was immature of him to take on such a loaded topic with such little tact.”

Despite his army of followers, many are outraged and Paul has taken a hiatus from vlogging. Many are upset not only at Paul, but at the poor regulations that YouTube has. So far, YouTube has neither changed regulations, nor appears to be planning to.

However, YouTube is answering the public’s outrage with promises of consequences for Paul. These consequences  include removal from its exclusive Google Preferred advertising tier, dropping him from the fourth season of YouTube Red series, and halting production of Paul’s films in its “Originals” category, according to Vox.com.

The main reason why so many are angry over this lack of regulation on social media, for both cyberbullying and inappropriate content, is that young children are finding access to this mature content.

Parents, like Nazareth teacher, Mrs. Loretta Sadowski, have started taking precautions when it comes to social media and their children. Sadowski discussed how she handles social media when it comes to her 12-year old daughter. “We hope to shield her from dangerous stuff as much as possible, plan to pick up the pieces when we need to, and keep our fingers crossed that nothing dangerous occurs.  We talk often about predators and how they manipulate and we try to prep her as best we can.” This is a stance that most parents take since it is inevitable for children to come across mature content.

While many parents see that it is the government’s job to regulate content on social media, Sadowski believes that would be “too heavy-handed a response,” at least at first. Sadowski believes that while children are exposed to mature content, it is not something that is new with the rise of social media. She believes, “parents and children who have a strong relationship probably have ways of discussing and working through questions and concerns that either side might have.”

As social media use increases and becomes ubiquitous with everyday lives, society must continue to analyze and criticize the ethics of its usage. Rather than accept all that is posted, Tweeted and shared, the users of social media must be the watchers and regulators of the content. Users must report misuse and offensive material and ultimately unsubscribe to platforms that do not meet ethical standards.

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