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Impact of Social Media on Society

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Using social media to removing dictatorship from The Gambia

About a year ago today, the Gambian people were able to send a 22 year old dictatorship packing mainly using social media, without a shot being fired. Jammeh a brutal dictator who has for decades, stifle dissent and democracy by controlling local media (Waddington C., 2015). This has led to the populace and Gambians in the diaspora to embrace online radios and social media, to propagate the opposition’s messages to the electorates. Many of these social media and online radio are continuing their campaigns against the new coalition government resulting in many fake news and contributing to insecurity and recent security issues such as the recent clashes between the former ruling party of the dictator and residents of the present president’s home town and other settlements in The Gambia. The double edged sword of social media is being witnessed in this country right now.

Ethical and social issues related to social media

Ethics in social media include using social media rightly and includes disclosing who you work for when using endorsing products or being responsible when talking about issues  in social media as it relates to workplace social media ethics (Barnes J.W., 2016). The consequences and the deontological theories of ethics also apply to social media as these new technologies cannot otherwise be policed by journalism bodies, technological firms and individuals.  

Consequalism

Social media consequal ethical theory dictates that the consequences of one’s actions should dictate how an individual’s actions affect others and the three types under these theory include egoism, which puts an individual’s interest above that of a society, utilitarianism which is the opposite and puts the society’s benefit above that of the individual and groups and altruism which benefits the society only and does not care about the benefit of the individual (Kizza J.M., 2013, pp. 32). The actions of Cambridge Analytica LLC and SCL Elections, (Calwalladr C., 2017) using social media and data science to further their individual interests, disregarding the interest of others depicts this ethical failings. This is great concern as the will of the people is being usurped by the selfish interest of the few and powerful, otherwise democracy will being taken back many centuries when only the powerful and vicious few can determine who runs our countries to the detriment of society and only them can govern, giving us racist leaders like Trump and they are getting more powerful as they are being given key roles in new administrations who they helped succeed in elections Calwalladr C., 2017).

Deontology

This ethical theory as it relates to social media means that the consequences of one’s actions should be the fundamental guiding principle and the action whether good or bad depends on the consequence (Kizza J.M., 2013, pp. 32). This ethical theory is seen in the case of the boy killing himself due to cyberbullying of his friend, (Philips K., 2017) as the consequence of the boy’s actions should have been foreseen and that should have determined the ethics and laws to prevent this consequence. The concerns in the failings of such ethical behaviours indicates that our collective and natural failings to foresee every consequence of new technologies and this theory will provide a broad and sensible approach to regulating everything, foreseen now or not (Kizza J.M., 2013, pp. 38).

Recommendations

It is therefore recommended that organisations and media houses providing services based on social media and other technologies, be bound by laws and ethics based on ethical theories such the consequential and deontological ethical theories as these new technologies has many unforeseen actions and can only be caught based on these or similar theory. The consequences and the benefit of society and not individual or group interests if regulated using Hedonism or emotivism, will only be reactive and not prevent the issues and tragedies being witnessed now.


 

Reference

Waddington, C. 2015, African Conflict Monitor, issue 09, p. 50 - 56

Barnes, J.W. 2016, Social Media Made Easy, Business Expert Press

Kizza J.M., 2013 Ethical and social issues in the information age. 5th edn. London: Springer. Ch. 3

Calwalladr C. (2017) ‘The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked’, The Guardian, 7 May. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy (Accessed 14 January 2017).

Philips K. (2017) ‘An 11-year-old boy killed himself after his girlfriend faked her death. She’s now facing charges, The Washington Post, 11 April. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/04/09/an-11-year-old-boy-killed-himself-after-his-girlfriend-faked-her-death-shes-now-facing-charges/?utm_term=.55e2318fdd1a (Accessed 17 August 2017).

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