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Business Ethics Issues Faced by Facebook

Choose a recent news/media article that has been published within the last 3 months that concerns a business ethics issues and discuss about it.

In today’s modern business world, each and every organization has its exclusive behavioral characteristics and processes. Companies develop its organizational culture by including different ethics and values. Business ethical issue is a trait which is found in a company and it has a link with the moral dilemmas. At a workplace, ethical issue can lead its people to make wrong decisions due to different complexities. Precisely, ethical issue arises when a person has to differentiate between moral and immoral act (Bowie, 2017).

For this essay, an article from “The Australian Newspaper” is chosen. The article is named as “Facebook: a canary in the data goldmine” that shows the ethical issues faced by World’s largest social media network i.e. Facebook. Recently, the organization has been the subject of various controversies and reputational issues. It has been in the scandal of politics, privacy and an important component of business success i.e. public trust. According to the chosen article, Facebook is confronting the embarrassing and costly public relation disaster after the revelations that Cambridge Analytica may have misused information from 50 million users to try to influence elections. The essay includes the discussion about the business ethics issue that is confronted by Facebook. It defines the arguments of the issue along with the most appropriate ethical decisions. Furthermore, it includes the ethical decision making process supporting the decision by recognizing the most related of the seven ethical philosophies.

The most fundamental business ethics issues which modern businesses face are the trust and integrity. When the customers perceive that an organization is showing a resolute commitment to the ethical business practices, a high extent of trust can create between the business and its customers that it wishes to serve (Crane and Matten, 2016). The chosen article is about the largest social media network i.e. Facebook that has over 2 billion monthly active users. Recently, the company is under the enquiry following the allegations that British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica inappropriately used the data of Facebook users and assisted influence the presidential election in United States. By looking at the chosen article, it can be analyzed that Facebook has faced the issue related to the theft of user’s data. In this article, the major arguments are that the company has confronted the controversy over the revelations that Cambridge Analytice collected the data on 87 million users, including 300,000 users from Australia (The Economic Times, 2018). One of the major arguments is that company has lack of ethical framework at Facebook for digital products. In addition to this, the article indicates that there is lack of proper legislation for enforcing the privacy principles. Due to these issues, the company has gone under the investigation as the organization has breached the Privacy Act 1988. It can be argued that it is the scandal of politics, privacy and significant component for the growth of business i.e. trust of public (Ramasundara, 2018). Due to this, company is facing embarrassing and costly public relations issue after the disclosures that Cambridge Analytica has used the information about 50 million Facebook users to influence the presidential elections in United States. The organization has faced this business ethics issue that has led it to lose the public trust and interest. Due to this, many of the users have deactivated their accounts on Facebook.

Ethical Decisions Made by Facebook

From the above analysis, it can be stated that the above organization is facing different ethical and moral issues that has affected the perception of users towards its operations. The recent crisis of Facebook is just one of the several privacy issues which the firm has had to overcome with in its short existence. At the organization, the key ethical issue is the data theft and privacy issue. The privacy issue at Facebook is not center and front. The loose handling of Facebook of how its users’ data was attained by application developers has embarked the organization into the biggest crisis of its existence of 14 years (Ramasundara, 2018). In this case, it is revealed that a data analytics firm used by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was able to gather the data of 50 million people through an apparently safe quiz app. About this, Facebook claimed that Kogan got access to this data in a legal manner and through the proper channels which governed all the developers on Facebook. After that, it has passed this data to Cambridge Analytica. The past employees of this firm revealed that their firm gathered the data of 50 million users without their consent (Weiss, 2014).

In this way, the company is unable to secure the data of its users and this business ethics issue is related to corporate social responsibility, under which the company needs to take the initiative to take the responsibility of confidential data of its users. Under the issue of data theft, the company is not able to fulfill its responsibilities towards its users. The company is unable to include privacy protection in its CSR activities (Vaughn, 2015). Facebook is failed to fulfill its corporate social responsibility towards its users’ data as they expect that the company will take their consent on the gathering and utilization of their personal data. Due to this ethical breach, the people in the country have realized the power of technical firms in politics and daily lives. As a result of this, they felt that the company is changing from what they expect and what company has promised. This is the reason that the company needs to include the data privacy protection as part of company’s corporate social responsibility.


As a result of this, Facebook has lost the public trust in its services and operations. The people think that it is unethical to share the personal information of people without their consent. To regain this trust and become ethical, the organization has made some ethical decisions. These ethical decisions can assist the company to establish its brand image among its users. As mentioned above, Facebook has confronted this business ethics issue to lack of appropriate ethical and legal framework (The Economic Times, 2018). It does not have effective privacy principles that are the major reason behind this privacy theft. In order to respond this ethical issue, Facebook has started to prepare for imposing the strict European Data Protection law which will come in the effect in May month. Looking at the people response towards Company, it has released a list of privacy principles that explains how the users can control their data. Among all, the most notable principle will be watching to consider if the company upholds is accountability.

Ethical Decision-Making Process at Facebook

In addition to this, the company has put its products and services through strict data privacy and security testing. The team of the company also met with the legislators, regulators and privacy experts all over the world. Considering the business ethics issue of privacy protection, the company has taken various important steps including the investigation all the apps which were not able to access the data of users. It has started to change its permission for the developers. Moreover, it has put the restrictions on the data applications can use, restricting them to person’s photo, name and email-id. From the case analysis, it can be stated that Facebook has made the most appropriate ethical decision by introducing the new privacy principles and limiting the applications to access the users’ personal information (Ruggiero, 2013). In the future, the company will comply with the Privacy Act 1988 and European Data Protection law. It is reasonable to impose these laws and safety measures which the company has used. Same as Facebook, Sony has penalized with £250 fine after the Information Commissioners Office founded out the company guilty of allowing a breach of Data Protection Act for failing to utilize the updated security software on PlayStation Network. To deal with this ethical issue, the company has imposed different safety measures to protect itself from data protection issues (Teulon, 2014).

The company can implement this ethical decision making process to give the decision to business ethics issue of users’ data theft. This decision making process includes several steps including the moral philosophy that Facebook can practice to make the decision regarding the above business ethics issue (Ferrell & Fraedrich, 2015). The decision making process is given below:

Identify the ethical issue

This is the first step under ethical decision making process where Facebook has analyzed the ethical issue faced by it. The organization is facing the issues related to data privacy theft. A firm has used the data of 50 million users for supporting the presidential election (Kosinski et al, 2015).

Collect the relevant information

After identifying the issue, the company has investigated the ethical issue and collected the relevant data. In this investigation, it found that Cambridge Analytica firm has accessed the data of its users for political process.

Evaluate the information

The above information is evaluated with the help of regulators, legislators and privacy experts so that it can find the reason behind this allegation. After the evaluation, it has found that it is failed to comply with the Data Protection Act and European Data Protection Law (Chikweche & Fletcher, 2013).

Consider the Alternatives

By making a committee, the company has discussed the entire case with its team and privacy experts. Under this step, it has established different alternatives like setting privacy principles, limiting the app developers etc.

Make a decision

After analyzing all the alternatives, it will select the best alternative and make the decision under this step. The company can make the decision complying with the moral philosophy of Deontology. Under the moral philosophy, the deontology theory is the normative ethical state which judges the morality of an activity on the basis of rules and regulations. This philosophy can be described as obligation or duty as the rules bind a business to its duty (Paquette, Sommerfeldt and Kent, 2015). According to this theory, it is the moral responsibility of Facebook to protect the data of its users. The company should comply with the Data protection laws. Considering this, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg has made the decision to implement privacy principles and protect the users’ data.

Act or implement

After the above process, the company has implemented the above decision in the practice to protect the data of customers (Litschka, Suske & Brandtweiner, 2011). It will include the user privacy protection as a part of its corporate social responsibility.

Conclusion

From the above essay, it can be concluded that each and every organization should work complying with its code of conduct and relevant laws. The essay includes the business ethics that is faced by Facebook. As a world’s most used social media network, the company needs to comply with the privacy principles and other related laws. The company should make efforts to protect the data of its users. It will assist the organization to regain the trust of public. Public trust is one of the most important ingredients to business success

References

Bowie, N. E. (2017) Business ethics: A Kantian perspective. UK: Cambridge University Press.

Chikweche, T., & Fletcher, R. (2013) Entrepreuneship and ethics under extreme conditions of poverty: Exploring the ethical realities faced by entrepreneurs. Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal, 19(2), 47.

Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2016) Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. US: Oxford University Press.

Ferrell, O. C., & Fraedrich, J. (2015) Business ethics: Ethical decision making & cases. Canada: Nelson Education.

Kosinski, M., Matz, S.C., Gosling, S.D., Popov, V. and Stillwell, D. (2015) Facebook as a research tool for the social sciences: Opportunities, challenges, ethical considerations, and practical guidelines. American Psychologist, 70(6), p.543.

Litschka, M., Suske, M., & Brandtweiner, R. (2011) Decision criteria in ethical dilemma situations: Empirical examples from austrian managers. Journal of Business Ethics.

Paquette, M., Sommerfeldt, E.J. and Kent, M.L. (2015) Do the ends justify the means? Dialogue, development communication, and deontological ethics. Public Relations Review, 41(1), pp.30-39.

Ramasundara, Y. (2018) Facebook: a canary in the data goldmine, Available from https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/opinion/facebook-a-canary-in-the-data-goldmine/news-story/3ab29bf5005b512d4ad5cbfd3d1c6d88 [Accessed from 2 May 2018].

Ruggiero, V. (2014) Thinking critically about ethical issues. US: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Teulon, F. (2014) Ethics, moral philosophy and Economics. Financial Economics, pp.28-8.

The Economic Times (2018) Can Facebook restore public trust after privacy scandal? Available from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/can-facebook-restore-public-trust-after-privacy-scandal/articleshow/63445157.cms. [Accessed from 2 May 2018].

The Economic Times (2018) Facebook privacy drive may crimp some political campaigns, Available from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/facebook-privacy-drive-may-crimp-some-political-campaigns/articleshow/63957871.cms. [Accessed from 2 May 2018].

Vaughn, L. (2015) Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. US: WW Norton & Company.

Weiss, J.W. (2014) Business ethics: A stakeholder and issues management approach. US: Berrett-Koehler Publishers

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My Assignment Help. (2019). Facebook's Business Ethics Issue: Analysis & Ethical Decision-Making Essay.. Retrieved from https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/business-ethics-issue-and-decision.

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[Accessed 18 May 2024].

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My Assignment Help. Facebook's Business Ethics Issue: Analysis & Ethical Decision-Making Essay. [Internet]. My Assignment Help. 2019 [cited 18 May 2024]. Available from: https://myassignmenthelp.com/free-samples/business-ethics-issue-and-decision.

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