Navigating a media ecosystem awash with misinformation and manipulation is one of the biggest challenges facing policymakers, organizations and individuals in the 21st century. Anyone with access to social media has the opportunity to influence a global audience, and with the access to the right tools and technology, the potential to expand human knowledge, or to do profound harm. Traditionally, journalism ethics has referred to the set of ethical practices adopted by responsible professional journalists, but the birth of social media has erased the gap between journalism and its audiences. It is crucial that we reach a common understanding of what constitutes ethical behavior for all participants in the social media and digital contexts.
Social Media and Digital Communication at IU
Faculty at Indiana University's interdisciplinary Observatory on Social Media, including co-conveners Menczer and Monaghan, are focused on developing tools to study the viral spread of misinformation, bringing together experts in the worlds of data science and journalism. The journalism program now housed at The Media School at IU-Bloomington has a long history of teaching journalism ethics, including ethics in the digital context. Set to launch in Fall 2021, a new data journalism program taught jointly by Observatory faculty will bring fresh curricular insights on ethics in the digital space, from both a data science and a storytelling perspective.
Keywords: aggregation, deep fakes, democracy, fact-checking, false narratives, first informer, fragmentation, hate speech, impersonation, journalism ethics, misinformation, moderation, online manipulation, privacy, professionalism, social bots, social media, transparency, trolls, verification
Convener(s): Elaine Monaghan, Filippo Menczer
Project Activities To Date
The New(s) Gatekeepers: Social Media’s Impact on Journalism in Developing Countries with Simon Allison, Noah Arjomand, Dragana Obradovic, Julie Owono, Aric Toler, and Daniel O’Maley, April 13, 2021. Co-sponsored by the Center for International Media Assistance.
- Trust and Authenticity in Social Media with Paul Barrett, Julie Posetti, Emily Bell, December 2, 2020
View the webinar recording on YouTube
Resources by Topic
Recommendations to the Biden Administration On Regulating Disinformation and Other Harmful Content on Social Media, March 2021, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Who Moderates the Social Media Giants? A Call to End Outsourcing, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Tackling Domestic Disinformation: What the Social Media Companies Need to Do, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Disinformation and the 2020 Election, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights
Hoaxy, from the Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe) at Indiana University
Resources by Type
- Bakardjieva, M. and Gaden, G., (2012_, Web 2.0 Technologies of the Self, Philosophy and Technology, 25(3): 399–413.
- Boyd, D. and Hargittai, E., (2010), Facebook Privacy Settings: Who Cares? First Monday, 15(8): 13–20..
- Carr, N., (2011), Never Enter Your Real Data, International Review of Information Ethics, 16: 74–78.
- Elder, A., (2014), Excellent Online Friendships: An Aristotelian Defense of Social Media, Ethics and Information Technology, 16(4): 287–297.
- Frick, M. and Oberprantacher, A., (2011), Shared is Not Yet Sharing, Or: What Makes Social Networking Services Public? International Review of Information Ethics, 15: 18– 23.
- Friedersdorf, C., (2015), How Dangerous is End-to-End Encryption?, The Atlantic, July 14, 2015.
- Froding, B. and Peterson, M., (2012), Why Virtual Friendship is No Genuine Friendship, Ethics and Information Technology, 14(3): 201–207.
- Grodzinsky, F.S. and Tavani, H.T., (2010), Applying the 'Contextual Integrity' Model of Privacy to Personal Blogs in the Blogosphere, International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 3(1): 38–47.
- Hamington, M., (2010), Care Ethics, Friendship and Facebook, in, D.E. Wittkower (ed.), Facebook and Philosophy Open Court, pp. 135–145.
- Hongladarom, S. and Britz, J., (2010), Intercultural Information Ethics, International Review of Information Ethics, 13: 2–5. Hull, G., (2015), Successful Failure: What Foucault Can Teach Us about Privacy Self- Management in a World of Facebook and Big Data, Ethics and Information Technology, doi:10.1007/s10676-015-9363-z
- Manders-Huits, N., (2010), Practical versus Moral Identities in Identity Management, Ethics and Information Technology, 12(1): 43–55.
- Marturano, A., (2011), “he Ethics of Online Social Networks—An Introduction, International Review of Information Ethics, 16: 3–5. Sharp, R., (2012), The Obstacles Against Reaching the Highest Level of Aristotelian Friendship Online, Ethics and Information Technology, 14(3): 231–239.
- Skog, D., (2011), Ethical Aspects of Managing A Social Network Site: A Disclosive Analysis, International Review of Information Ethics, 16: 27–32.
- Smith, A., (2011), Why Americans Use Social Media, Pew Internet and American Life Project
- Spinello, R.A., (2011), Privacy and Social Networking Technology, International Review of Information Ethics, 16: 41–46.
- Turkle, S., (2011), Alone Together: Why we Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Basic Books.
- Vallor, S., (2010), Social Networking Technology and the Virtues, Ethics and Information Technology, 12 (2): 157–170.
Reports by Pew Research Center, Internet, and Technology
- Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States
- Social Media Use in 2021
- 10 facts about Americans and Facebook
- Millennials stand out for their technology use, but older generations also embrace digital life
- Americans' complicated feelings about social media in an era of privacy concerns
- A Short Guide to the history of 'fake news' and disinformation, International Center for Journalists
This learning module designed to be used by journalists, journalism trainers and educators (along with their students) provides historical context for the analysis of the 21st century 'fake news' crisis. Relevant case studies and a timeline are designed to better inform users about the causes and consequences of 'information disorder' – from harassment of journalists by 'troll armies' to the manipulation of elections and diplomatic crises.
- Ethics Cases Online, Indiana University Media School
This set of cases has been created for teachers, researchers, professional journalists and consumers of news to help them explore ethical issues in journalism. The cases raise a variety of ethical problems faced by journalists, including such issues as privacy, conflict of interest, reporter - source relationships, and the role of journalists in their communities.
- Fakey, Indiana University Observatory on Social Media
This game aims to teach media literacy and study how people interact with misinformation.
- First Draft Training Tools
These free online courses, toolkits and resources are designed to help both journalists and the public build expertise and stay one step ahead of misinformation.