"Things change so fast, you can't use 1971 ethics on someone born in 1971"
Grace Slick

Social networks are unethical (mostly)

There's a lot of hand-wringing going on in charities and non-profits at the moment about the "ethics of generative AI". It's totally reasonable but I feel the need to point out that social networks, upon which many charities depend, are (with maybe one exception) totally unethical.

My kids aren't allowed to use social networks. They're finally resigned to it. Having worked in the digital industry since before social networks existed, I know exactly what happens to user data. The research is comprehensive and conclusive.

Privacy Violations
Many social networks have been criticised for not adequately protecting user data, leading to instances of data breaches and unauthorised data sharing. This violates the ethical principle of respect for privacy.

Mental Health Effects
There's increasing evidence that prolonged use of social media can negatively affect mental health, including increasing feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, especially among young people.

Misinformation Spread
Social networks can rapidly spread misinformation or "fake news," causing confusion, panic, or harm. They often struggle to manage this effectively.

Promotion of Unrealistic Standards
Social media can promote unrealistic expectations of beauty, success, and happiness, leading to negative self-perceptions and self-esteem issues among users.

The design of many social networks encourages constant use, which can lead to addiction. This is ethically questionable because it exploits human vulnerabilities for profit.


So, please don't get excited by Meta's new Twitter competitor Threads. It's the same old unethical, exploitative BS wrapped up in a new skin.

What I recommend

This post is for subscribers only

Sign up now to read the post and get access to the full library of posts for subscribers only.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in