Topic 4 – The Ethical Issue that is Online Privacy in Business

In the video below I discuss Prof. Paula Swatman’s (n.d.) findings on ‘ethical issues in social networking research’. These include:

  • Recruitment
  • Privacy
  • Consent
  • Data Sharing
  • Terms of Service


During Topic 2 I highlighted privacy as a driver for multiple identities. Due to its significance, I will evaluate it once again in this post.

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As claimed by The Guardian (2014), Twitter as a form of social media “has facilitated entertainment, argument, gossip and abuse.” Additionally, individuals involved in business must be weary of privacy when using social media.


There are two sides to investigate when looking at privacy in business: the invasion of an individual’s privacy by a business, and the protection of privacy of a business.

Invasion of Privacy by Businesses

The video below explains the business of ‘Information Brokers’ (reputationcom, 2011) and how they can access your public, semi-public and private records; this information can be subsequently packaged and sold on. Social media is a great source whereby companies can seek information to build up a profile of you; and can then go on to target their marketing at you through to preparing a fraudulent attack.

Data collected in the video above can be bought and manipulated to create cyber-doubles as in the case of Ruth Palmer vs Leah Palmer (BBC, 2015).

Protection of Privacy by the Business

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Social media sites are a “hunting ground for cybercriminals” (BBC, 2016). According to the diagram above (Guardian, 2016) cybercrime is affecting many businesses in the UK. Recently in 2016, the UK government published a document Reducing the Cyber Risk in 10 Critical Areas which shows ways in which businesses can protect themselves against such attacks on their private information.

Concluding thoughts

Businesses or individuals accessing and releasing private information or view and opinions should only occur with the prior approval of the individual (Data Protection laws). This could avoid cases such as Justine Sacco, a senior director of corporate communications at IAC whose tweet sparked media outrage and led to her being fired. The ease of use of social media should be approached with caution. Even if the handle of our twitter account is our own name, we could be regarded as always representing our employer and thus should ensure that what we publish is appropriate.

However, social media has its benefits as it breaks down barriers and allows individuals to speak freely and share said thoughts globally. It is up to the individual to ensure data that they create and access is meets the approval of the company they are representing and the terms of the site they are using.

Word Count :424



3 thoughts on “Topic 4 – The Ethical Issue that is Online Privacy in Business

  1. Dear Mary,
    thanks very much for posting this week. I really enjoyed reading your blog in particularly on how you chose to target the area of online identity fraud and theft and how that is perpetuated through social media. Previously I only had a slightly understanding to how information/ identities are sold online but I now feel this is an area that I would like to research more. I am interested to know your thoughts on how you would completely protect yourself from online identity theft? I understand how the use of multiple identities can limit the impact of identity theft however if your professional account were to get stolen and cloned, this could detrimental to your working life, vice-versa with your private account. Is there any way of preventing from being targeted by information brokers in this current day and age of wide spread and enforced social media use?
    Many thanks,


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