Ethics in Social Media

Today I am contemplating the roll of ethics in social media. I was reading RSS feeds and through an article I was led to a social media services company, SSM. Their services involve increasing Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, and YouTube Viewers with a “guarantee” that their clients will not be disappointed. Sound to good to be true? It may be. The strategy SSM uses for increasing exposure for their clients is to purchase likes, followers, and viewers.

Bloggers and businesses rely on exposure to increase real traffic and sales, but are the services offered by SSM ethical? Companies using SSM to increase their exposure are deceiving their current and potential clients. I liken the practice to truth in advertising. While purchasing likes, followers, and viewers isn’t directly addressed by the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC) their policies could apply.

FTC policy states that advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive; advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and advertisements cannot be unfair. Applying these statements to the practice of purchasing likes, followers, and viewers indicates that this practice is not ethical. Companies making these purchases are not being truthful and are deceptive when making public their erroneous like, follower, viewer counts. These companies do not have evidence that their counts are real people instead of fabrications created by their purchase. Those involved in this practice are being unfair to clients by influencing client trust through false likes, followers, and viewers.

What are your thoughts on purchasing likes, followers, and viewers? Like me, do you find this practice to be unethical? Can the FTC policies be applied to this purchasing practice?


2 responses to “Ethics in Social Media

  1. Hi Cynthia,

    Here’s an interesting YouTube video clip I found relevant to your posting and the Ethical Issues in/with Social Media:

    My favorite part of the clip is the mention of how SM is here to stay, and when successfully employed, it can be an extremely powerful tool. However, contrary to that, ethical dilemmas will always lurk beneath the surface seeing as SM is such an interdependent, high influence, fairly unregulated environment. There needs to be more online regulatory organizations providing guidance on how to utilize social media and avoid its pitfalls.


    Dawn Marie

  2. Cynthia,
    Unless there is a clear law against “buying in” it will continue to happen and money makes money. I feel this is very unethical, well at least extremely deceitful. All “dirt” eventually rises to the surface and so I don’t worry too much about a competitor who knowingly chooses to lie.

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