moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.

Given the above defenition, catfishing and the ethics relating to ones personal use of social media springs to mind first. Certainly, this would be an easier blog to write as there is a wealth of readily available material out there already (see here).

However, I believe that the ethical issues regarding the use of social media by businesses is much more interesting – this blog will focus on one ethical issue in particular.

In 2013 it was reported that ‘by the end of the year, 40% of the worlds population would be online’ (BBC), and with countless websites throwing out reasons why social media should be utilised – as seen in the graphic below – businesses would be fools not to capitalise on the interconnectivity and use social media for marketing.


One of the biggest techniques businesses use, and are quite openly encouraged to use, is behavioural targeting. This is when an indivduals web-browsing history is analysed and collected which then results in personalised adverts. They are always watching.

The scary thing is, is that when we sign up to new websites/shops and we click ‘ I agree to the terms and conditions’ we essentially give our consent for businesses to use this technique. Amongst the 500 page document with size 11 – the bit that most of us skip over- it essentially states that the company is “going to track you, gather your information” and that they  “reserve the right to sell it to somebody else”. If that isn’t unethical I don’t know what is…

The below video goes into more detail on behavioural targeting:

This heightens the issue of online privacy. Facebook regularly gets itself into hot water over this issue, but ‘even when these breaches are unintentional and no malicious, they scare consumers away’ (Forbes 2011).

Although, one could argue that we are to blame for this unethical issue. When signing up to new services we have the option to sign in with our Facebook, so we are giving them the power to view our information.

Should we just role with the punches and except that this is now how businesses target customers? The debate around privacy is on going  and unavoidable. As social media evolves it is only going to become more relevant…. ‘society is still fumbling towards commonly acceptable rules of engagement’ (Guardian 2014).



Barry J. (2014). 7 Ethical Dilemmas Faced in Content Marketing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016].

BBC, (2013). [online] Available at: . [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016]. (2016). Behavioral Targeting – Glossary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016]. (2011). 5 deadly sins of social media. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016]. (2011). Facebooks privacy issues are even deeper than we knew. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016].

Greenwald, G. (2014). Transcript of “Why privacy matters”. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016].

Guardian (2014) Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016)

Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2016). ethics – definition of ethics in English | Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016].

The Make Money Online Blog. (2016). How To Use Social Media For Marketing Your Online Business. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2016].