Topic 4: Ethics of Social Networks

There are numerous ethically challenging aspects of social media use that we, as internet users, should be concerned about while we are active online. Some of the ethical issues, to name a few, are anonymity, cyberbullying, the monitoring of current or future employees and identity theft. Cyberbullying in one of its forms was explored briefly in Topic 3, in the case of Justine Sacco (Ronson, 2015) where we explored whether the “right to free speech” (The Guardian, 2014) was should be compromised to prevent social media posts being offensive. In this topic, we will look into the evolving problem of identity theft for young people.

Identity theft is the act of wrongfully using someone’s personal information, especially in a way that is fraudulent (US Department of Justice, 2017). Online identity theft refers to the theft of a person’s personal information by online means, for example obtaining personal information from social media. Since the internet is relatively new, so is the problem of online identity theft and fraud. It is an issue that is also explored in the MTV show Catfish (2012). The show is mainly aimed at exposing some of the deceitful relationships and friendships that can ensue online. However, the underlying message is to show that there are risks of your online identity being used fraudulently and also of someone using a false identity to manipulate you, especially on social networks.

Figure 1: the trailer for Catfish: The TV Show 

Potential identity theft is a big problem for young people who are avid users of social media, not solely for entertainment purposes but also for educational use. Liu (2010) argues that social media can be used as a tool, not only for learning but also for teaching. Here are some examples of how social media can be used in an educational arena:

Figure 2: Video on social media and how it is used for educational purposes

Arguably, the burgeoning problem of identity theft online could become more of a problem worldwide since the digital divide is weakening.


Figure 3: Infographic showing some facts on the digital divide

More people are gaining internet access, and while these developments present more opportunity for positive interaction, they also create a wider space of possibility for young people’s information to be taken advantage of.

With all this in mind, the question is: who is responsible for the protection of our information online. Glenn Greenwald (2014) highlights that privacy is important, which is necessary on all social media accounts, not just if you have something to hide. Who is protecting us online?


Figure 4: Infographic showing some points to consider of who is responsible for dealing with online identity theft

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BI Intelligence (2016, August 5) 99% of young British people use social media every week. Business Insider. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Compaine, B. M. (2001). The digital divide: Facing a crisis or creating a myth?. Mit Press.

Chaffey, D., (2017, February 27) Global social media research summary 2017. Smart Insights. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Edudemic (2015, January 12) How to Use Social Media as a Learning Tool. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Greenwald, G., (2014) Why privacy matters. Ted Talks. [Accessed: 26 March 2017]

Kelion, L., (2013, October 7) UK jumps up internet scoreboard as digital divide grows. BBC News. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Kleinman, Z., (2015, March 5) Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer. BBC News. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Liu, Y. (2010). Social media tools as a learning resource. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange3(1)

The Guardian (2014, January 24) Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

The United States Department of Justice (2017, February 7) Identity Theft. [Accessed: 25 March 2017]

Ronson, J., (2015, February 12) How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. NY Times. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Wakefield, J., (2016, June 15) Social media ‘outstrips TV’ as news source for young people. BBC News. [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Figure 1: [Max Joseph] (2012, October 26) CATFISH: THE TV SHOW TRAILER. (Video File) [Accessed: 24 March 2017]

Featured image & Figures 2-4: Self produced


Topic 3: Reflection

The idea of having an authentic profile online is one that seems to relate to being a real person behind an account and not just a robot. However, maintaining an authentic online professional profile entails making the most of the social media resources available to us for social recruiting.

Aside from what I learnt in my own research, the work of others made me look at the prospect of a professional profile online more personal, in terms of how I can improve my existing accounts and even create now ones.

From reading Rachel’s blog post, I considered the importance of having consistency on all my social media accounts in order to be taken more seriously as a professional. This is something that I first came across in my research on Topic 2, where having the same image on each account was beneficial for being identified easily.

(Skip to 1:13)

However, this blog post and the subsequent discussion took this further in terms how important it is for being considered as a serious candidate and to clearly demonstrate what my identity is online.

Through the discussion that followed from Ausaf’s blog post, I saw the benefits of social recruiting, more from the perspective of employers. I hadn’t considered that there were drawbacks of using the CV application process in terms of the number of employers received. By being able to directly contact or scout possible employees online, a company for example, doesn’t have to rely on how many people will see an ad in a newspaper. From a self-reflective point of view, after discussing Ausaf’s personal experiences and what the benefits of LinkedIn are, I have learnt that my research has proven true and it is beneficial as a networking tool, which is something I would definitely find advantageous.

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[jetsetshow] (2010, June 29) 7 Steps to Building Your Online Identity. (Video File) [Date Accessed: 19 March 2017)

Featured Image: Self-produced

My comments

Rachel’s blog

Ausaf’s blog

Topic 3: Authentic Professional Online Profile


In a nutshell, social recruiting is a strategy that’s used to hire candidates by looking through social media networks as a talent agency. On platforms such as LinkedIn, companies can scout eligible candidates for recruitment without having to use the traditional methods of newspaper advertisements or agency placements.

This method can be beneficial for both employers and potential employees. More employers will be able to save money by joining the “33% of recruiters” (Jobvite, 2014:12) who spend nothing on social recruiting. Also, both employers and employees can save the time and stress of rigorous interview processes by handpicking candidates online and doing a ‘social screening’ to determine their suitability for a role.

Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 18.50.56

Figure 1: Visual representation of two types of recruitment 


Here are some tips I’ve compiled from videos and posts on how to make optimum use of social media to create an authentic professional profile:

Figure 2: Click here for slideshow presentation on how to get a job through social recruitment


The main problem is that in a sense, your social media accounts are constantly being watched before and possibly after you’ve been hired. This was the case for Justine Sacco, who made a post ridiculing her chances of contracting AIDS on a trip to Africa, resulting in her getting fired. However, this is not an isolated case, and social media posts have caused other employees to get dismissed:


Discrimination is another problem. For example, there are only “2 percent Latino members” of the “15.4 percent Latino” (Belicove, 2010) population in the US are registered on LinkedIn. Looking solely at social media excludes a large chunk of people who are not social media users but could be perfect candidates for the job.


With all this in mind, the question is: how can we express ourselves freely on social media? The problem with using social media is that we’re becoming so reliant on it, its purpose is somewhat being lost. Revis (2015) highlighted that “we’ve begun to eliminate the most powerful thing about sharing platforms”. We nolonger use it “for meaningful social debate” so we don’t have to “risk our livelihoods on what we believe in” (Revis, 2015). In my opinion, social media should be a place where people can express themselves freely, contributing to why multiple online identities are necessary, as stated in Topic 2.

However, can we authentically express ourselves if we know that every post could cost us a job offer?

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BBC (2013, December 18). Job hunting: How to promote yourself online. (Video File) [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Belicove, M.E., (2010, April 10) Pitfalls of Using Social Media as an HR Tool. Entrepreneur. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Harris, L., (2014) Using social media in your job search. The University of Southampton Web Science MOOC. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Muyanja, L., (2017, March 4) Topic 2: Multiple Online Identities. WordPress. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Jobvite (2014). Social Recruiting Survey Results 2014. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Revis, L., (2015, July 22) Social Media & Censorship: Freedom of Expression and Risk. Huffington Post. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Ronson, J (2015, February 12) How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. NY Times. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Tapscott, (2014, October 30). Five Ways Talent Management Must Change. World Economic Forum. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

The Employable (2014, October 28). How blogging can help you get a job. [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

The University of Southampton (2014, August 8). LinkedIn. (Video File) [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

[Listopedia] (2016, January 23) 5 Tweets That Got People Fired. (Video File) [Accessed: 12 March 2017]

Featured Image: Pixabay

Figures 1 & 2: Self-produced

Topic 2: Reflection

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of having multiple online identities appeared to be simple at first glance but there were several new things that I learnt from my own research and seeing other people’s work.

Despite being someone that uses the internet daily, I was unaware that every website gathers information and uses it to form an online identity of you. Although it was something I was aware of with sites that I had to register to use, I thought it ended there. To find out that even search engines save our data was an almost shocking thought.

Aside from this, Madeleine’s blog post made me reconsider some of my rationales for having multiple online accounts. In my blog, I looked at the separation of the private and public online self from the perspective of an online user trying to split up their professional and private life. However, from reading this post, I was provoked to consider the other harmless reasons why people have private accounts, such as for celebrity fan accounts – often found on Twitter.

Alternatively, Callum’s post raised a key question of why we should be different online when we portray more than one identity offline. During my research, I continually came across articles that drew comparisons between life offline and online, which also moulded my opinion of them as two separate spheres, preserved by the creation of multiple online identities. But the question posed, and the subsequent discussion, triggered my thoughts of whether or not, especially for younger people, this divide will exist.

In some ways, online accounts may contribute to our ‘real life’ identities by giving us the freedom to express ourselves differently. This is a prospect that may not be measureable until we continue to watch the future ‘online generations’ progress.

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Featured image: Self-produced

My comments