The internet is an ever-growing field of social interaction and expression, but it is not without its pitfalls. A website can be popular, but if it lacks ethical standards, it will soon find itself on the wrong side of public opinion. While there are no strict guidelines for what constitutes ethical behavior on the internet, here are some key points to keep in mind when developing your own web presence.
What are Online Ethics?
Online vs offline ethics
The first thing to mention about online ethics is that they’re different than offline ethics because everything you post online has a “life” longer than wherever you posted them.
You should always think before posting something and ask yourself: “How would I feel if this got back to my boss or my parents?” If you wouldn’t want someone else’s boss or their parents seeing what you posted, it’s probably not the best idea to post it.
You should also try to use appropriate vernacular when posting online. Not everyone knows what “LOL” means, so even though they may smile when they see it, they don’t actually know why you’re so happy!
Another thing that is different about online ethics than offline ones is that there are no real direct consequences for unethical behavior on the internet. However, in an increasingly interconnected world where jobs and entire careers can be built using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, ethical conduct in one place can become a factor elsewhere in your life.
Therefore, it is still important to be cognizant of your actions even if there might not be any immediate reprisal.
Treating others with respect
One of the most common pitfalls on the internet is treating others with respect and kindness online. Online, it’s easy to be harsh because you aren’t face-to-face with whoever you’re addressing.
Be mindful of your language and try not to insult others or mock them for their beliefs or practices. Even though there are no physical consequences, they can still hurt emotionally.
The same goes for trolling; even if someone isn’t saying something serious, don’t attack them for what they’ve said or written (online trolls are often called “trolls” because of this).
Another thing that should be mentioned is that anyone can view whatever content you post online, so make sure it’s appropriate for everyone!
This is the major dilemma that many online users face. It’s easier to act unethically without immediate repercussions when you’re typing your thoughts into a text box than it is if you’re using your spoken or written words.
Online bullying is no different than offline bullying, so it should be treated accordingly. If someone is cruel to another person on the internet, whether it’s about their race, sexuality, gender identity, and so on and so forth…
There are many different forms of internet bullying, but there are also ways to stop it. Don’t retaliate in kind if you’re being harassed online. If someone says something cruel to you in a message or comment box, delete it immediately! Sometimes deleting the offensive comment just isn’t enough, so if you have a friend or family member that your target trusts, show them the comments and get them involved.
If nothing else works (or you don’t want to involve anyone else in the situation), there are websites specifically for this purpose. ReportThem, CyberAngels, and Online SOS allow you to anonymously submit evidence of bullying, harassment, and other unethical online behavior. These websites then investigate the claims that are submitted to them and act accordingly.
While there are many ways to deal with this issue, it is still important to remember that your safety comes first! Don’t let anyone bully you into silence; if someone doesn’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, that’s their problem. Don’t let them make it your problem as well!
Keeping yourself from being cyber-bullied starts with you. By not engaging in the same behaviors as those who would bully others online, you can become a role model and help put an end to this issue.
Taking advantage of others
Another common pitfall that people face online is taking advantage of others. This can take many different forms, but the end goal is always the same: to make someone else do something you want them to do for no other reason than your own personal gain.
When it comes down to it, everyone online wants respect and kindness from those they encounter on a regular basis. Don’t exploit this desire by tricking them into doing things for you or giving you information that they might not otherwise disclose.
This also goes along with posting fake content as well; this could be done in several ways such as making up news or blog posts that don’t exist, using another person’s photo as an avatar without their permission and so much more!
Privacy and security concerns
Finally, it’s important to be mindful of privacy and security concerns. When you’re online, it’s easy for someone to take something you wrote or post and use it against you.
One comparison that is often made is that the internet is like a public park; there may not be fences stopping people from entering, but those who enter should still be courteous about leaving their garbage behind.
Never share your passwords with anyone, don’t write down sensitive information on public forums, and avoid posting pictures where your friends are tagged unless you have their consent.
These are just some basic rules for being an ethical user of the internet! Remember that by following these guidelines, not only will others think more highly of you when they see how considerate you can be, but you will also be creating a positive example for others to follow!