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Ethical And Cultural Issues With Social Networking Media Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2356 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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It is a network or a social structure made up individuals, organizations or the society at large based on virtues of friendship, business, interests, religion etc. In other words it is the grouping of individuals into specific groups based on common interests/platforms. Although social networking is possible in person, especially in the workplace, universities, and high schools, it is most popular online. This is due to the fact that unlike most high schools, colleges, or workplaces, the internet is filled with countless individuals who are looking to meet other people, to gather and share first-hand information and experiences.

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Online Social Networking

Social networking extended to the virtual space is effectively online social networking. In such a scenario websites are used as a common platform to meet and network and the internet binds all of the together. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites function like an online community of internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. Once an individual is granted access to a social networking website he can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly even contacting them.

Making friends is one of the many advantages of such websites. Apart from friends, one can develop professional contacts, share photos, discuss events etc. Another one of those benefits includes diversity because the internet gives individuals from all around the world access to social networking sites. This means that although a person is in London, he could develop an online friendship with someone in China or India. Not only will that person make new friends, but might also learn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages and learning is always a good thing. As mentioned, social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. While there are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests, there are others that do not. The websites without a main focus are often referred to as “traditional” social networking websites and usually have open memberships. This means that anyone can become a member, no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. However, once a person is inside this online community, he can begin to create his own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

Some of the very popular online networking websites are as follows:








Business Ethics

Business ethics (also known as corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as a whole. It changes for every business unit with the passing of time as well as geography. What might be ethical in Spain might be wrong in Nigeria and what might be right in Nigeria may be wrong in India. Therefore, it is the fundamental duty and responsibility of the corporate house to keep such ethical and cultural issues in mind while doing business internationally.

Culture in International Business

When working in the global commercial environment, knowledge of the impact of cultural differences is one of the keys to international business success. Improving levels of cultural awareness can help companies build international competencies and enable individuals to become more globally sensitive.


Facebook is a social networking website launched in February 2004 that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc., with more than 500 million active users in July 2010. Users can add people as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by workplace, school, or college. The website’s name stems from the colloquial name of books given to students at the start of the academic year by university administrations in the US with the intention of helping students to get to know each other better. Facebook allows anyone who declares themselves to be aged 13 or older to become a member of the website.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities before opening to high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The original concept for Facebook was borrowed from a product produced by Zuckerberg’s prep school Phillips Exeter Academy, which for decades published and distributed a printed manual of all students and faculty, unofficially called the “face book”.


















Revenues of Facebook over the past 5 years

Despite all the fame and success, Facebook has met with some controversy. It has been blocked intermittently in several countries including Pakistan, Syria, People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, and Iran. It has also been banned at many places of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service. Privacy has also been an issue, and it has been compromised several times.

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Mark Zuckerberg – Co-founder, Facebook

Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American entrepreneur best known for co-founding the popular social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with fellow classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard. As of March 2010, he is the youngest billionaire in the world, with a net worth of US$4 billion in 2010, due to his 24% share of Facebook.

Zuckerberg is responsible for setting the overall direction and product strategy for Facebook. He leads the design of Facebook’s service and development of its core technology and infrastructure. Earlier in life, Zuckerberg developed a music recommendation system called Synapse and a peer-to-peer client called Wirehog. However, he abandoned both to pursue new projects. Zuckerberg attended Harvard University and studied computer science before founding Facebook. While at Harvard, Zuckerberg created Facemash, a website that compared students’ dorm photos side-by-side in a fashion similar to HOT or NOT. Harvard administration was not amused, and Zuckerberg faced subsequent disciplinary action. Less than three months later, he launched Facebook.

Ethical & Cultural Issues with Facebook

Egyptian cleric issues fatwa against Facebook

Facebook has been under the scanner in many of the Islamic countries due to its inability to tackle the reserved and strict Islamic views on social customs. One such major issue has been the issuance of a Fatwa against it by a top Islamic cleric in Egypt. According to Sheikh Abdel Hamid al-Atras infidelity has increased due to the usage of Facebook leading to a number of divorces in Egypt. He says that Facebook is acting as a tool which destroys family life by encouraging spouses to have relations with other people which is opposed to Islamic law. Mr. Atras former head of the fatwa commission at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. “While one or other of the spouses is at work, the other is chatting online with someone else, wasting their time and flouting the Sharia. This endangers the Muslim family.” According to him Facebook is a double edged sword. On the one hand it has propagated the spread of Islam among the youth but on the other hand it has allowed people forbidden love and relations which qualifies them as a “sinner” in the eyes of Islamic Law.

This controversy has evolved a lot of attention in Egypt and many senior clerics have demanded strict action against Facebook including its founder Mark Zuckerberg. The religious leaders also called Muslims using Facebook as “sinners” and have asked all Muslims to shun the website. This has rendered severe flows to the image and revenues of Facebook, denting its plans of a global presence including the reserved Arab and Islamic nations.

The road ahead:

Facebook should really device ways to roll out country specific versions of the popular website keeping in mind the ethical and cultural barriers which are the two most important pillars of doing successful international business. It should be extra careful in its roll out plans in Islamic nations which would not digest the liberal ways of facebook very well. Strict regulations should be in place so as to keep the people in check and so that the religious beliefs and practices are kept in place and not played around with.

Facebook banned in Pakistan

Pakistan’s government ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook on Wednesday amid anger over a page that encourages users to post images of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.

The Facebook page at the centre of the dispute – “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” – encouraged users to post images of the prophet on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of “South Park” for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year. This attracted protests all over Pakistan, majorly by students who rallied demanding that Facebook be banned for tolerating the controversial web page.

In an attempt to respond to public anger over the Facebook controversy, the Pakistani government ordered Internet service providers in the country to block the page. But the Islamic Lawyers Forum asked the Lahore High Court to order the government to fully block Facebook because the site had allowed the page to be posted in the first place, said the deputy attorney general of Punjab province, Naveed Inayat Malik.

The road ahead:

Facebook clearly ventured into danger area by playing around with Muhammad who the muslims consider as their God. Not only did facebook not comply with Islamic norms but it flouted them too, attracting the ire of the entire Islamic community. The result being that the website was banned in Pakistan and an Islamic version of the website was created, called MillatFacebook. This dealt a severe blow to the websites plans and aspirations and resulted in slowdown in business which was clearly evident from the drastic drop in the growth rate of its revenues. The Deputy Attornet General of Pakistan also wants an arrest warrant issued against Mark Zuckerberg, and wants the Interpol to arrest him and deport him to Pakistan. The Pakistan government has also asked its representative to raise the issue with the United Nations General Assembly. The future for facebook in Pakistan thus looks bleak.

Facebook ‘FRIENDS’ Create Ethical Issues For Journalists

Facebook has captured everyone’s mind and it is hard to believe that there are people with internet connections who are not on facebook. This has raised an important concern for people who are in the profession of journalism. It raises an important ethical question: Does becoming “friends” on social media sites compromise the reporter-source relationship?

Before the advent of social media, journalists regularly disqualified themselves from writing about family and friends. Even the most ethical reporter might have trouble writing objectively about his or her friend’s arrest, for example, and readers might question the credibility of the reporter and the newspaper. With social media, the line separating relatives/friends from strangers has disappeared and it therefore becomes difficult to write against a social friend. Even if someone is able to write it, it might be biased. This came to the forefront when it was discovered that a Times reporter is connected on Facebook to two Republican candidates for office. This relationship questioned the reporter’s ability to report fairly about these candidates and their opponents. No specific bias was noticed in the reporter’s stories but only the perception of a conflict of interest.

Since the lines of relationships have become blurred with the rise of online social media, the ethical aspect of reporting is being questioned. The argument that would be the best solution is to be friends with both sides at any given point of time to stay away from any chances of bais towards any one party.

Most reporters see Facebook as a powerful communications tool, and nothing more. What’s important is that their reports remain fair and free from bias.


Ethical and Cultural issues form the core of international business/relations. One cannot at any point tend to ignore these two important factors, because without the successful understanding of these, international success will only be a dream. In order to make it big, companies/organizations should clearly understand these critical factors and make proper arrangements to tackle the same.


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