Types of Cyberethics Statements

Like other digital media practices, cyberethics statements are relatively new. There are seemingly two approaches to the statement: long statements with examples, legal clauses, and links for more information; or short statements with a vague guiding principle that is open to interpretation.

Microsoft offers the first approach and an extensive “Cyberethics Statement” that tells the public the types of tracking software they use while visitors search their site. In addition, they recommend the public is mindful of the personal data shared while online. The detailed “Cyberethics Statement” from Microsoft is very different than the vague, two-sentence statement from Facebook, which encourages Facebook personnel to practice “extreme sensitivity and caution” when accessing personal information of users.

Cyberethics statements can be evaluated for their use and integration of the 15 ethical guidelines. The more detailed a statement (like Microsoft’s) the more likely they specifically address and integrate the ethical guidelines. The vaguer they are (like Facebook), the less likely they are to specifically include the guidelines. As digital media continues to be a part of the public relations profession, we will be able to assess if the more exhaustive or vague cyberethics statements are better at encouraging ethical practices.

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