Topic 4 – Unethical use of social mediaHow SAFE are we on the internet?



“The Internet is a scary place”

There are a few issues on the unethical use of social media (Vinjamuri, 2011), however, the most significant issue to me was to compromise the privacy of consumers. To start off the topic, I have decided to use a different approach of a short intro on how businesses exploit the use of social media to obtain our information.

What is the point of having passwords and privacy settings when our information is eventually sold or shared to others without our consent?! It is certainly unethical to be monitored by companies at all times without knowing. Here are some of the ways on how our information are being compromised by Facebook.

Getting cold calls from telemarketers and companies may seem insignificant as one can just ignore the calls but compromisation of information could lead to something bigger as well.

With  information to be easily taken away from the social media, anyone could just grab our photo and biography to create a “new identity” of ourselves that we are not known of which is also known as identity theft. One example would the case of Ruth Palmer.

Source Screenshot from BBC News

Fake accounts of Ruth Palmer under the name of Leah Palmer was created and uploaded to various social media platforms. This fake profile of Leah Palmer has been seeking for online relationship saying the man in those photos are her psychotic ex-boyfriend whereas in reality the man is actually Ruth Palmer husband and they are happily married! All these photos were all downloaded via Ruth’s social media platforms. Worse of all, Ruth did not know about this issue until 3 years later after her friend sends her a picture of this profile! It sure is scary to know how strangers can easily steal our identity due to the lack of privacy on social media.

Another example on compromisation of privacy is the use of our biometric data for Facebook Autotagging function. According to (Fiveash, 2011), the face recognition technology violates the laws of privacy in EU and German have raised certain issues as well. To be honest, every time Facebook managed to auto detect the profile of the person in the photo leaves me in between the feeling of shock and amazement at the same time.

Source : Screen shot of my Facebook Photos

Although the integral use of social media and our information have brought much ease to our life be it for personal or business use, still it is unethical for social media firms to release our data without our consent. Perhaps higher security measures or even just asking us if we are willing to disclose our information would even be better than releasing it behind our back. So, what are your views on this?

[445 words]


Vinjamuri, D. (2011) Ethics and the Five deadly sins of social media. Available at:

Fiveash, K. (2011) Facebook facial recognition tech ‘violates’ German privacy law. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2016).

Kleinman, Z. (2015) Who’s that girl? The curious case of Leah Palmer. Available at: (Accessed: 11 November 2016).


22 thoughts on “Topic 4 – Unethical use of social mediaHow SAFE are we on the internet?

  1. Hi Yong You! The video about how Facebook abuses our privacy came as a shock. I had zero knowledge of these acts prior to your sharing. But, just a little thought. Maybe we ourselves are guilty of compromising our privacy too? Just like how I didn’t know about the ‘5 ways’ (video), many times, we are not familiar with the privacy policies of things we sign up for. I for one do not read the ‘terms and condition’ before ticking that ‘agree’ box. Even when signing contracts. I assume the salesgirl had already told me the important terms.

    So, in a sense, we should also play our part in this ‘privacy’ call. Be more informed about the idea of privacy protection. Be aware that bad things can happen to your life, like in the case of Palmer. Because I think people tend to belittle negative impacts, unless the misfortune is on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Wan Ni ! First of all, thank you for reading my post.I am glad that I am able to share some insights for you about getting our privacy compromised. I myself, do agree with your view to a certain extent on how we are responsible for this issue. However, with the firm taking advantage of us being unfamiliar with the T&Cs, I feel that we are still victims of these acts.

      However, I believe that we as users should be informed about their use of our information more often and start getting familiarised with the T&Cs as well to prevent such acts from happening.

      Nevertheless, thanks for reading and stating your point of view. Really appreciate it 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Yongyou/YY,

    A very important point you have raised, and I can’t agree more on the paramount importance of privacy! Despite the vulnerability of information compromisation, sadly, privacy is still greatly overlooked. The video you have posted gave me a new perspective on how social media capitalizes on our ignorance.

    I was wondering if say Facebook provides notice that publicly shared information could be used for commercial purposes and gives a choice as to whether this was agreeable. By knowing what to expect, do you still think it’s still unethical? What type of regulatory approaches to online privacy do you feel would work best? In my post, I recommended social media governance for an organization to practice to protect its interest. Hypothetically, could social media governance also protect the consumer’s interest? Would like to hear your thoughts on this!

    Overall, I appreciate that your post provided me more insight on privacy.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Nicol! Thanks for reading and sharing your understanding of this post. I am glad that i am able to provide you more insight on privacy.

      To your question. I feel that if social media/Facebook were to give us a more visible notice/choice prior to publicly share our information for commercial purposes, it will not be as unethical. That is because we as users have agreed on the use of our data with full consent upon seeing the notice as compared to us now being unaware/ignorant about it.

      Thanks for your recommendation of using social media governance. Yes, with the use of the model it helps as a method to guide the employees and to protect the organization and their customers from risk. More on the components of a social media governance model can be found here

      I hope all these answers your questions, nevertheless thank you for reading! Appreciate it 🙂



  3. Hi Yong You,

    Thank you for an informative post! iIt made me realise the importance of online identity and how Social Networking Sites are using information gathered for marketing purposes.

    Having said that, as we(users) agreed upon the Terms and Conditions before using the platform, it shows that we are aware of what Facebook can do with information collected. Is it then considered an ethical issue since we did agree and are aware of it? Plus, as mentioned the “use of our information can help firms target their audiences effectively.” Would this then, not help companies understand consumers needs better?

    I, however, do agree that identity theft is one of the more crucial issues mentioned. In the business view, an example of Instagram creating a new feature called InstaStories based on Snapchat’s idea, do you think this is an ethical issue as the feature introduced was relatively similar to Snapchat’s?


    (151 words)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Juls!
      Thank you for reading and sharing your perspective of the view on the topic. I am glad that i am able to share insights with you on the importance of online identity and misusing our information for marketing purposes.

      Yes, we sure are partly to blame when we ourselves are ignorant with reading the T&Cs but I believe it is still “ethically incorrect” for them to take advantage of us with that. Firms maybe should highlight and give a more visible notice on how our information would be used for marketing purposes? Eg. having them in Bold and Bigger font in the T&C or having the message pop up again after our initial agreement on the T&Cs?

      I have to agree on how customer insights are critically important for companies to function and plan its marketing strategies as I as a marketing student has learnt about this as well. However, from a consumer point of view, I believe it is better for us to be asked from our information formally instead of stealing them under the table without our consent.

      In terms of how InstaStories are relatively similar to Snapchat’s, I believe that is a fine line in between plagiarism and keeping up with your competitors. Over the years, social media platform have been releasing similar functions between themselves to keep up the trend. However, it is up to the firms themselves to manage the performance of the app to keep up with the originals. There are instances where one app tries to copy the other but they failed to perform and ended up being nothing insignificant as a threat. Here are for information on that:

      In the business view, in my honest opinion, I believe this is more of a trying to keep up with the competition than identity theft.

      Nevertheless thank you for reading! 🙂

      Cheers YY


  4. Hi Yongyou!

    It scares me how our data are being used on the internet. However, I disagree to your stand that the release of social media data is totally “unethical”. I quote from BBC “Ethics is system of moral principles – a recognised system of rule of what is right or wrong and behave accordingly, and there is no system of morality accepted as universal.

    Social data, to a certain extent, may comprise user’s privacy in the internet. However, we cannot deny that such data collection method helps to prevent fraud, especially in banking. Data of fraud patterns can be collected and measured against their database for suspicious activities.

    In additional, marketing make use of such data to anticipate consumer’s behaviour to make better plans or strategy, reducing costs. If you are working in the company, won’t you work at the best interest of the company? And hence, will you classify this as unethical?

    More can be found here:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello, Wansia! Thank you for reading and showing your understanding of the topic.

      I understand and acknowledge the reasons on why you disagree with the post. However, I believe with firms taking advantage of us being unfamiliar with the T&Cs, I feel that we are still victims of these acts. How would you feel if someone takes advantage of you behind your back, while they are saying they are helping you? In the company point of view, I agree that having such critical data helps to anticipate consumer behavior and make better plans/strategies but as a consumer, I believe that we have the right to decide whether to give or not to give our information. What we are asking for as a user/consumer is to have a more visible notice on how our data will be processed and used with the right for us to agree/disagree.

      Although I do agree, if we put our information on some websites, then we should expect the information is read and used by other people. Maybe having companies adopt the use of social media governance as an assurance to users that if their information has been misused they will be protected under the policy will be more “ethically” correct for them?

      I hope these answers your questions. Thanks for reading, appreciate it!



  5. Hey Yong You,
    Indeed the internet is a scary place! Although it facilitates information sharing and brought convenience into our lives, it is scary that some of this information may be compromised. Do you think it is worth it to trade our privacy/confidentiality with the ease of convenience in the internet world? What should we do if we are unwilling to do make that trade-off?

    Another creepy phenomenon I spotted on Facebook was the sponsored advertisement column on the right. Items I have viewed on another website (e.g. Amazon) would appear on the sidebar of sponsored stories, though both accounts are not linked. These sponsored advertisements are built around our user activities. Advertisers can pay a price to highlight an action that users have already taken on the social network. (Darwell ,2013, Is sharing our social network’s footprints and hence pushing advertisement to us ethical? I do not recall explicitly providing consent to this (then again, it might be part of some miniscule footnote or terms and conditions).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Joletta! Thanks for reading.

      Yes, it sure is scary. I believe we should be given more options to have our consent on whether to release our information for marketing purposes. Thanks for pointing out the sponsored advertisement column, I myself have experienced this as well! Eg. I went to Zalora to view certain items and those exact items ended up at my Facebook advertisement column! I wanted to share this as well but I was unable to grab the screenshot on that day. I am glad i am not the only one to noticed this. Sometimes, in my own opinion, I feel that even though sharing of our social network’s footprints integrating them with the use of advertisement might make things simpler and faster but I still feel creeped out by the fact that whatever I’ve done on the internet has been traced by someone at all times! Maybe having companies adopt the use of social media governance as an assurance to users will be more “ethically” correct for them?



  6. Hi YY!

    First of all, I must say I’m awed by how our information can be simply obtained and used by social media against us. Similarly, I’m amazed by Facebook auto-tagging ability which really do help us, users to save time tagging photos. However, this means our data and friend’s identities were exposed and stored beforehand thus, leading to our privacy setting being questioned. As we did agree to the ‘terms & conditions’ which allows Facebook (and also other social media) to access our personal information prior to signing up, do you still think what they are doing are considered unethical? Overall, we did give our permission for them to do so. Will you still use social media if you knew that your information is that easily exposed to others? And for Leah Palmer case, it’s mainly caused by user’s misconduct behavior online. What do you think users can do their part to prevent this unethical behavior online?

    Look forward to your reply! Cheers! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wendy!
      Thank you for reading the post and sharing your concern on the privacy issues. I feel that most of the time we are unfamiliar/ignorant with the T&Cs so we missed out on the fact our information will be used for marketing purpose, therefore, if social media/Facebook were to give us a more visible notice/choice prior to publicly share our information for commercial purposes, it will not be as unethical.Eg. Highlighting those notice with bigger font and colour.

      As a marketing student, I understand the need of having customer insight to help companies to plan and strategize better, so if companies industries (eg. F&B, Fashion) I am interested in asked for my information via social media and the social media have checked its authenticity I would be happy to give them. This would definitely make me want to use the platform even more because of the trust and assurance they have given to me.

      As for Leah Palmer case, users have to be more aware of their security setting and social media companies should have more function to prevent identity theft. For example, nobody should be able to download our pictures without knowing, notification will be sent if someone screenshot/ download our pictures ( like Snapchat) to notify us on who did it.

      Anyway, I hope these answers your question. Thank for reading Wendy! Really appreciates it.



  7. Hey YY,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts through this blog post, i was shocked to learn how Facebook abuses our personal information, it seems that we would have to be more cautious over it now.
    I do agree that having “no privacy”, our information will be easily leak out and result in potential crime such as identity theft. Let’s all hope that this will not happen to us. However, here are some points to ponder about.
    (1) Is there any way(s) we can reduce this from happening?
    (2) A social media account requires adequate information about us to build up on our profile and let ourselves known. If we were to put lesser information, would this be defeating the purpose of putting it in the first place?
    (3) We all do understand that there’ll be chances of leaking of information yet we still put personal information of ourselves, is it really right to push all the blames to these social media?

    Hope to receive your reply soon so we can talk about this issue further!



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