Topic 4 – Reflection

Through the research for this topic I uncovered the ethical issues associated with online businesses. I used this assessment piece to build upon a topic that I had previously highlighted in topic 2, privacy. Privacy is an important matter that affects everyone who uses an online service. As a user of social media services online, I am aware of the steps that I can take to protect my own information. However, topic 4 has given me the opportunity to explore online privacy through the eyes of a business: with organisations being responsible for both the invasion of consumers’ privacy and the need to protect their own.

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To build on self-assessment and self-improvement I developed three aims for this week:

  • To create a moving image to embed into my post.
  • Continue to create a structure to my posts.
  • Use analytical data to build on my arguments.

By reading and commenting on Alex’s post I learnt about the thoughts of Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, and the company’s privacy ideology (Greenwald, G. 2014). Additionally, his post allowed me to explore my own thoughts on how an online business can embed a system to help their users alert them of illegal and/or unethical practices. Furthermore, through Louise’s post I explored my ideas of how privacy can be controlled by the user rather than via the business. From exploring both posts I have concluded that the most secure system for the protection of a user and a business will be to have both work side-by-side as one entity alone cannot sift and sort all the data available online.

To build on my topic 3 reflections I attempted to build a Piktochart to embed into my post. Also, I explored a variety of video software and chose because of its simplicity.

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MacDonald, G. (2010) The Business Ethics Blog: Why Privacy Matters (online). Available at: (Accessed: 23 April 2017).

Greenwald, G. (2014). Why privacy matters. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 April. 2017].

Next Avenue (2013) Forbes: 7 Steps to Protect Your Online Security (online). Available at: (Accessed: 23 April 2017).


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.

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