Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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  • Guest editorial
  • Contemporary global challenges and ethical mindsets

    Purpose: This paper aims to provide a framework that might be used to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing humanity, which are increasing in seriousness and complexity. The Millennium Project had identified such challenges, and over time periods until and including 2050, which pose the question, how would societies cope with these challenges averting any disastrous results? contemplating the suggested ethical principles, and the three central beliefs of “end-based”, “rule-based” and “care-based”. In some cases, individuals might not be blamed to think that “it is only a miracle” that might save humanity. Design/methodology/approach: This paper, through the use of literature review, intends to provide an insight into these challenges, the suggested ethical principles and the three central beliefs, providing brief overview of the concept “miracle” leading to discussion on ethical mindsets, its components and their dimensions. Findings: Concluding with framework for the way forward tackling these challenges. Research limitations/implications: The limitation of this paper might lie in the fact that it is only a conceptual paper, but it calls on researchers to conduct further research using the suggested framework. Originality/value: This might seem to be forward thinking, but it is a call for researchers to conduct more research in this area, and for governments to fund such research, to allow for the establishment of a method to refine the mindsets of individuals around the world to change into “ethical”, and thus, the world becomes better equipped to face and reduce the challenges and threats that are being faced by the world.

  • Viewpoint: at the intersections of information, computing and internet research

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce a new collaboration between the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) and the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (JICES). Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses historical, comparative and ethics-based approaches. Findings: The collaboration is catalyzed by central interests shared between AoIR and JICES, namely, in the ethical and social impacts of the internet. The collaboration accordingly aims to bring research and reflection developed for the AoIR conferences to the JICES’ readership. Originality/value: The value of this collaboration is considerable, as it promises extensive new cross-fertilization between the two communities. The viewpoint begins with a brief overview of the collaboration’s initiation by Prof Simon Rogerson and its logistics over the next two years. Following a general review of Information and Computing Ethics and Intercultural Information Ethics, an overview of ethical considerations fostered by AoIR is offered, focusing on the development of internet research ethics (IRE), especially its most recent expression in an IRE 3.0.

  • Social media use in academia. Towards topology development and investigation of dominant use motive

    Purpose: The high rate of internet penetration has led to the proliferation of social media (SM) use, even at the workplace, including academia. This research attempts to develop a topology and thereby determine the dominant use motive for faculty’s use of SM. Design/methodology/approach: In this two-part study, a two-stage research design has been adopted for topology development based on the application of Uses and Gratifications Theory. In the second part, the Technology Acceptance Model is applied to discern the dominant motive for SM use in academia. Findings: The work is able to develop a seven-item topology, conforming to the basic three use motives, namely, hedonic, utilitarian and social. The work shows faculty attach more value to the instrumental utility of SM, while the hedonic function is also significant. Practical implications: Discerning dominant motive implies that SM use at the workplace should not be banned, rather effective regulated use will instil the faculty to enhance work outcomes. The conceptualisation of topology for SM use in academia at the workplace can aid in designing an effective organisation policy, and design of an internal SM platform. Originality/value: The study is unique towards topology development for academic faculty and has many important implications for management and academia, especially towards policy design for SM use at the workplace.

  • Rethinking democratizing potential of digital technology. A review of technology and communication studies

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how the shifting conceptualization of the democratizing potential of digital technology can be more comprehensively understood by bringing in science and technology studies (STS) perspectives to communication scholarship. The synthesis and discussion are aiming at providing an interdisciplinary theoretical framework for comprehensively understand the democratizing potential of digital technology, and urging researchers to be conscious of assumptions underpinning epistemological positions they take when examining the issue of democratizing potential of digital technology. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is a constructive literature review that synthesizes and integrates existed literature from communication and STS on the democratizing potential of digital technology. The author attempts to bridge theoretical perspectives from communication and STS by identifying core arguments and debates around key concepts and discussing potential implications of different epistemological positions. Findings: Tracing the evolving analytical perspectives of technological determinism, the social construction of technology and actor-network theory, the author argues that researchers should be aware of their underlying epistemological assumptions embedded in relationships among users, technological systems and social factors. Analyzing the contested notion of power in the democratizing potential of digital technology from two contrasting perspectives, the author argues that researchers should recognize both the front end and the back end of digital technology in their analysis. In addition, new challenges of algorithm opacity and accountability in impacting the democratizing potential of digital technology are further discussed. Originality/value: This study provides an original interdisciplinary theoretical framework by reviewing and bridging scholarship from communication and STS in examining the democratizing potential of digital technology. Adopting this interdisciplinary theoretical framework helps researchers develop a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the democratizing potential of digital technology.

  • Care ethics and the responsible management of power and privacy in digitally enhanced disaster response

    Purpose: This paper aims to argue that traditional ethical theories used in disaster response may be inadequate and particularly strained by the emergence of new technologies and social media, particularly with regard to privacy. The paper suggests incorporation of care ethics into the disaster ethics nexus to better include the perspectives of disaster affected communities. Design/methodology/approach: This paper presents a theoretical examination of privacy and care ethics in the context of social media/digitally enhanced disaster response. Findings: The paper proposes an ethics of care can fruitfully by used by public and private agents in disaster management. Its relational ontology restores the priority of fostering good relationships between stakeholders, thus giving central importance to values such as transparency and trust and the situated knowledge of disaster-affected communities. Research limitations/implications: This paper presents theoretical research and is limited by the availability of empirical data. There is opportunity for future research to evaluate the impact of a conscious adoption of an ethics of care by disaster management agents. Practical implications: An ethos of care ethics needs to be mainstreamed into disaster management organisations and digital initiatives. Social implications: This paper argues that power asymmetry in disaster response renders the public vulnerable to abuse, and that the adoption of care ethics can support disaster management agents in recognising this power imbalance and wielding power responsibly. Originality/value: This paper examines the applicability of an alternative ethical framework to novel circumstances.

  • What do you know about me? Digital privacy and online data sharing in the UK insurance sector

    Purpose: In addition to data transforming the insurance sector from within, insurance consumers and their behaviour has transformed significantly over the past 20 years from traditional retail to, predominantly, online trading. Data are a fundamental part of how the sector operates, and the use of data in insurance is constantly evolving. This paper aims to explore consumer perceptions about digital privacy and their subsequent motivations to disclose personal data for insurance purposes. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses an exploratory research approach based on in-depth interviews to generate metathemes to provide an understanding of consumer perceptions about digital privacy and data sharing in the insurance sector. Findings: Consumers were extrinsically motivated to disclose data by financial reward and convenience; however, subsequent intrinsic motivations may be an influence on the initial motivations. Consumers perceived transactions as “fair” if they received the expected rewards, retained control of the data, and the data was not unilaterally used to their detriment. Concern for privacy was generally low, provided antecedent conditions were met. Research limitations/implications: As the study uses an exploration for discovery approach, the main limitation of this study is its small sample. However, this research aimed to identify metathemes and issues that may be the focus of future research in this area and is, therefore, not proposing to suggest strong conclusions and definitive answers. Originality/value: This paper presents the first empirical research to examine data privacy issues in the UK insurance context. It contributes to knowledge in the areas of motivation, applied ethics and online consumer behaviour in general.

  • Examination of cyber aggression by adult consumers: ethical framework and drivers

    Purpose: The widespread use of information and communication technologies enables consumers to obtain and share information whenever they feel the urge. With the advent of review websites and forums, companies and business owners may find themselves victims of consumer cyber aggression, which can hurt a company badly. This study aims to explore why consumers would engage in cyber aggression against companies, and to that end, it examines consumers’ ethical orientation and other possible drivers of cyber aggression. Design/methodology/approach: To examine how ethical orientation affects consumers’ intention to engage in cyber aggression, a scenario-based 2 × 2 (deontological: moral/immoral × teleological: good result/bad result) between-subject experimental design is used. Moreover, 26 possible drivers in related literature are identified and included in a questionnaire administered to 226 college students. Findings: The results show that adult consumers’ deontological and teleological evaluations significantly affect their ethical judgment about engaging in cyber aggression, which further impacts their intention to perpetrate an act of cyber aggression. Moreover, the study identifies six factors contributing to cyber aggression engagement as follows: personal aggressiveness, ease of perpetration, internet negativity, personal gains, helping the company and recreation. Originality/value: Cyber aggression is generally viewed as interpersonal violence among adolescents. This study views cyber aggression from a different perspective and it is one of the few studies to look at adult consumers’ motivations to engage in cyber aggression against companies. The findings of this study can help firms understand why their customers attack them online, and understanding that will enable businesses to formulate more effective responses to attacks.

  • Breaking the epistemic pornography habit. Cognitive biases, digital discourse environments, and moral exemplars

    Purpose: This paper aims to analyze some of the epistemically pernicious effects of the use of the internet and social media. In light of this analysis, it introduces the concept of epistemic pornography and argues that epistemic agents both can and should avoid consuming and sharing epistemic pornography. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on research on epistemic virtue, cognitive biases, social media use and its epistemic consequences, fake news, paternalistic nudging, pornography, moral philosophy, moral elevation and moral exemplar theory to analyze the epistemically pernicious effects of the internet and social media. Findings: There is a growing consensus that the internet and social media activate and enable human cognitive biases leading to what are here called “failures of epistemic virtue.” Common formulations of this problem involve the concept of “fake news,” and strategies for responding to the problem often have much in common with paternalistic “nudging.” While fake news is a problem and the nudging approach holds out promise, the paper concludes that both place insufficient emphasis on the agency and responsibility of users on the internet and social media, and that nudging represents a necessary but not sufficient response. Originality/value: The essay offers the concept of epistemic pornography as a concept distinct from but related to “fake news” – distinct precisely because it places greater emphasis on personal agency and responsibility, and following recent literature on moral elevation and moral exemplars, as a heuristic that agents might use to economize their efforts at resisting irrational cognitive biases and attempting to live up to their epistemic duties.

  • e-Business management assessment: framework proposal through case study analysis

    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to propose an e-business assessment framework for organizations that aim to enhance the effectiveness of their online presence and maximize the benefits that result from it. The framework is based on three main pillars derived from the academic literature research: e-marketing strategies, customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and business model strategies. Design/methodology/approach: This paper reviews the literature from e-Marketing, CRM and business model strategies, leading to the generation of an e-Business assessment framework. Second, it takes 19 case studies and analyzes them using ATLAS.ti, through qualitative content analysis, to validate that framework. Findings: Pragmatic advice for practitioners derives from research results considering that this framework enables managers to characterize the company in terms of its e-business approach, making it possible to determine the level of depth of competitive online strategies. Lessons for an improved e-business approach can be derived from this paper. Originality/value: This study proposes a novel e-business framework to assist organizations that want to have an online presence. This framework is comprised of the factors identified in the literature review that contribute to define and scope that online presence. The framework is then validated through the collection of 19 case studies of companies that have this online presence, validating the theoretical findings.

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