The Unspoken Ethics of Social Media by anamaulida


									How many times have you thoughtlessly followed back someone because they
followed you? Or liked a comment that was relevant to you? It seems that
the development of social media has also led to the unconscious creation
of a code of ethics.This ethical code can be seen in virtually any kind
of social media, from micro-blogs to social networks. Specifically,
social networking is often the subject of great controversy and is
generally portrayed as lacking ethics, but there is definitely something
else at play. Here are some examples to illustrate what I mean:1. Follow
Backs on TwitterWhy do we follow back people on Twitter? Is there some
sort of benefit we get to doing so if we won't even read their tweets? In
my experience, the follow-back or mention of new followers is more of a
courtesy and acknowledgement of your attention to their account. But the
gesture can be seen as simply an act of courtesy, like coming to a stop
sign and letting another car cross first. You don't have to do it, and
some people don't, but doing so feels right.In some cases, a follow back
is done as a means of insuring that a recent follower will remain a
follower. Some people only follow others as a means of finding new
followers to their own account, counting on this common courtesy. This is
not completely unspoken as Twitterers often tag their account with the
#teamfollowback or #follow hashtags, conveying to others that they
participate in this Twitter courtesy.2. Facebook "Likes" on Random
ThingsBefore I begin, let me say that I know there are many cases of
"likes" that are valid and mean more to the user than is suggested here.
That being said, it seems that in many cases, a "like" is an
acknowledgment of having read or seen a comment, photo, post, etc. The
"like" tells the poster that you have seen their contribution, and you
agree with its content.The growing use of "like's" as a means of
unlocking content or some other purpose may be distorting this unspoken
practice. At this point, the value of a "like" has been diluted by the
sheer over-usage by businesses and websites. At this point, a "like" can
be distinguished by the context within which it is being used. A "like"
on a friend's comment, picture, etc. is an acknowledgement of your
viewing that content, and a "like" on a business profile, product, etc.
is real acknowledgement if it is done in a way that is not in some way
encouraged or instigated by the organization, product, etc. that is being
"liked." Search engine optimization uses social authority as a ranking
factor for a reason, but the more these companies abuse and force it, the
less it really matters.3. Accepting People as Friends in Social
NetworksIf you don't know someone why are you accepting them as a friend?
In many cases this is for social reasons, if the person is someone of the
opposite sex, then of course you want to be friends. But if the person is
not someone you're interested in for social status, then why do it?At the
beginning of social networks, the number of friends you had was something
to take pride in. But at this point, its more a representation of the
time you spend on Facebook or whatever social network it happens to be.
Having lots of friends is great, but adding someone as a friend often has
ulterior motives, and accepting someone is often a common courtesy rather
than an acceptance of friendship.On the flip side, people very rarely
remove others as friends. This is mostly because they don't care enough
to do it, so in the cases when someone is deleted as a friend, it is
considered to be a serious statement. When you remove someone as a friend
it says that you dislike them enough to take time out of your life to do
so. This is because friendship on social networks carries such minimal
emotional value to the users.

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