Business Ethics Assignment: Analysing Case Of Facebook & Fake News
Choose one of the case studies proposed below and write a report on business ethics assignment:
— Deepwater Horizon (BP) Oil Spill (2010); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill
— Rana Plaza (2013); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Dhaka_garment_factory_collapse
— Wells Fargo Banking Scandal (2016); https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_Fargo_account_fraud_scandal
— Facebook and Fake News (2016); https://www.vox.com/new-money/2016/11/16/13637310/facebook-fake-news-explained
— Nestle and the Human Right to Water. https://www.epsu.org/article/right-water-versus-ceo-nestle-i
Present an analysis on the ethically and legally relevant elements that are raised in regard to your selected case study, proposing a strategy and a new set of rules to ensure good business practices in future situations. Please reflect on the previous tasks (1.1 and 1.2) and consider if any of the “10 Rules for Ethical Practices in Business” should be considered in the draft of your proposed solutions. The student “must use” the sources (references) provided for the development of the case. The student is expected to provide additional sources outside of those provided for the development of the assessment. See page 02 for more information in the References section.
Finally, note that your work shall present a “critical thinking angle” and that your arguments shall be backed up by relevant literature and resources, duly cited/referenced.
The primary aim of this report on business ethics assignment is to reflect and analyze the case study “Facebook’s fake news problem, explained” by Vox written by Timothy B. Lee. This report will extensively analyze the impacts and remedies of the ethical issue faced by a multi-billion-dollar company, Facebook. Social media has been a double-sided platform that can be used effectively to render positive outcomes such as developing the business, conducting low-cost ad campaigns, multiple awareness programs. So, similarly, the media can also be a platform to spread pessimism and unethical content to people. This report will discuss one such issue of spreading fake news that affected the reputation of Facebook. It will initially provide a basic insight into the company's problem. Then it will be followed by the discussion about the correlation between the ethical rules in business and the issue experienced by Facebook. Then the report will elaborately discuss various ethical issues faced by a company. Then the report will focus on interlinking the triple bottom line business concept and the company's issue, finally, by evaluating the relations between 10 ethical practices and Facebook to explicitly provide the seriousness of the issue.
2. Problem identification
Facebook has been one of the predominant platforms to connect with people digitally. From its inception in 2004, has never failed to gain the attention of its competitors and users with multitudes of features and freedom. The company has become a symbol for social media. However, according to the report gathered by the Vox Editorial, the influence of Facebook’s freedom in sharing the content was a bit more imprudent and foolhardier. The fake news disseminated among the billions of users globally has extensively impacted the results of the 2016 US election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Madrigal, 2017). Several stories are rocketed around the media platform that was ‘misleading, sloppily reported, or in some cases made up' says Vox in its editorial (Vox, 2016). The editorial added that information such as the endorsement of Donald Trump by Pope, or operative from democratic being murdered after consenting with the testification against Bill Clinton and many stories that were utterly bogus circulated into multiple accounts. It engendered a biased view of the candidates who participated in the election. According to the workshop report released by Yale law school, fake news is considered as “public discourse” under First Amendment Protection (Yale Law School, 2017).
3. Issue of Facebook and its correlation between ethical rules
Ethics are crucial in any business since they assist in enhancing the law by delineating acceptable behaviors beyond the spotlight of government (Ciulla, 2020). Many corporations establish business ethics to uplift the integrity within their employees and gain trust and credibility from their primary stakeholders, including the user or consumers, and investors (Schroeder, 2021). Maintaining the ethical values in the business is important for Facebook to retain the users count it has lost recently with the circulation of news regarding the unauthentic content by Facebook. For ethical handling of business, any business needs to abide by these five rules or, to be more precise, five ethics – honesty, integrity, respect, fairness, and law-abiding.
Being honest in all communications and actions is crucial for business sustainability and development. Honesty is considered the cornerstone of trust (Pozil and Hacker, 2017, p. 6). It does not include only honesty. It is candidness. The business has to be open and overt to gain the credibility of its stakeholders. The reluctance in the executives of Facebook regarding their platform being the apex source for the circulation of fake news and eschewing to take any effective actions by sharing the reality of the situation further adds up to negatively impact the company soon. The case study also underscores the lack of candidness of Facebook's CEO by stating he 'downplayed' the site's involvement in sharing the fake news online. However, privately, the company was wrangling about ways to improve doing the same since it renders a burgeoned number of user involvement that eventually increases the company's profits.
Being integral with colleagues and stakeholders will extensively determine the strengths and morality of the business. The CEO of Facebook has to keep the words publicly shared of curtailing any future sharing of fake news on the platform. The case study states that the company failed to create an algorithm that effectively obliterates any fake news shared in the media platform's news feed, and even the team of professional journalists floundered to succeed in truncating and eradicating the frequency of sharing fake news in the social media platform. This lack of integrity will substantially affect the company's operations and will make the company stumble to sustain (Armstrong, 2020, pp. 6-17).
Freedom does not always comply with dignity. The company failed to respect the professionalism shared among various newspaper organizations such as the Washington Post New York Times by providing accessibility to all news providers a card that portrays their news as an authentic and reliable source. The appearances provided by Facebook for enhancing the user interface and increasing the users' attention have been a serious factor that loosens the constraints of professionalism. Facebook tried to offer its users the look and ambiance strikingly appropriate as that could be seen in professional newspaper editorials, thus disrespecting the professionalism engendered by competitors and other organizations. The Opprobrium of offering unethical freedom to users, which extensively affects the power of authenticity and authority of the company resisting the infliction of rules and regulations to gain extra profitable activity, denotes the problems related to 'more progressive macro-level ethics commerce' (Norman, 2016).
The inequitable and inconsiderate decision and negligence of the CEO as per the comments of one employee regarding the spread of fake news are utterly preposterous. The study includes a comment stated by an employee of Facebook who was shocked by the CEO’s lethargic ignorance in this issue. Mark Zuckerberg plays an unfair game by keeping only business and profits in mind. It will have a severe impact on the business and future of Facebook.
In the USA, the people or organizations not abiding by the regulations formulated against the sharing of fake news will be punished under proposed federal law. The people responsible for sharing fake news will be filed with state lawsuits and various testimonies. Similarly, in countries like India, the website or platform responsible for sharing the fake news will be ordered shut down once the intelligence has confirmed that the respective site or platform is responsible for sharing the fake news (Funke and Flamini, 2019). There are around 239.65 million Facebook users in India (Statista, 2022). If the company persists in sharing the fake news and is in a position to be completely shut down, then the company's profits would drastically fall.
4. Different ethical issues experienced by the business
Managing a business is a taxing job to do, with multitudes of responsibilities and acuity. Any business leader needs to target utterly on ways to improve the business while ensuring that the workplace environment and employees are safe and healthy. Amidst all these, the company and its executives still have to focus on the impacts of the ethical issues. If the effects are left unconcerned, then the ramifications will be harmful. A successful business needs to identify and redress the issues in its inception. When is an issue considered ethical? If the business activity conflicts with the ethical human values and impacts the individuals related to the work in the organization, then the issue is considered ethical. The ethical issue is that even though the employee or employer is punished for their infringement that engendered ethical issues under suitable legal actions, it will not stop them from performing actions stimulating ethical issues in an organization. So the business leader must meticulously monitor and redress any possibility of the issue's harbingers (Fathima, 2021).
4.1. Harassment and workplace intolerance
Harassment and workplace intolerances such as discrimination are still prevailing to be the most daunting ethical issue the employees face in the business world. To overcome such issues, the company has to ensure that its employees are aware of the behavioral rules of the organization and must regularly monitor whether the employees are abiding by them. Other preventive measures will protect the company from experiencing any ethical issues.
• Regarding the age of the person, for instance, people in 40s or older, and not abiding by the ageist policies.
• Regarding the physical or mental disability of the people. Accommodations and facilities are developed to offer fair treatment of the employees.
• Regarding the pay - The pay has to be equal and fair irrespective of sex, color, religion, etc.
• Regarding pregnant employees, the company provides the facilities and accommodations to its pregnant employees.
• Regarding the race and color of the employees - The treatment of employees is fair and steady irrespective of the diversity in race and culture needs to be attended to.
• Regarding religion and traditions, the company offers and ensures fair treatment in accommodations and services for employees with wide religious beliefs.
• And finally, regarding sex and gender. The company treats every employee with equity.
4.2. Placing health and safety of the employees in concern
It is explicitly delineated in the regulations shared by one of the apex organizations. Each employee has a right to work in a safe and secure working environment.The business environment presents unique issues that are more grave compared to other issues such as environmental and societal issues faced by the company due to its life dependency. There are possibilities that the injuries in the workplace may cause some detrimental health effects. It might either be physical or mental. The workplace for the employees must be ethically safe and secure and must ensure that the employees' health is insured and protected. The company could use health and safety professionals (HSP) who can either be employed half-time or full-time. They will be responsible for assessing the work environment, formulating, planning, and spreading the awareness related to the measures that might be incorporated to enhance the safety of the workers (Aaron, 2018). Fake news often includes sensitive information that might gravely offend a particular party. The case study says the fake news even shares some farcical information such as sharing the fake sex tapes of famous personalities, which might engender hostility among their followers or the parties closely involved with that personality. The employees and employers would be threatened and sometimes be injured to share the information regarding the source. The ethical issue also comprises the infringement of confidentiality in securing the employees' medical records.
It is not just the health affecting factors related to the physical build of human beings. The health concerns also include the mental health of the employees. It is apparent that more than physical problems, mental risks are detrimental. These may be stimulated by stress, pressure, tension, and so. The probable reasons for any such psychological risks are job insecurity, ignorance of rewards and gifts for employees with exceptional service, lack of independence, over-consumption of alcohol, imbalanced eating habits, and so (CCOHS, 2022).
4.3. Pontification in social media
The recent development of social media and the internet has made it difficult to monitor and accuse the employees' conduct on any social media platforms. It is complex to fire or punish employees based on their social media posts. For instance, the company cannot fire or punish the employees if they share that their work on Facebook is hectic and laborious; however, if the employee shares any information that makes the company unpropitious, the company could punish or depose that employee (Lee, 2016).
The decision to penalize the employee in such a case is complicated. The business leaders must construe how authentic that news is. If the message that describes the work as hectic and more pressurizing is true, then the leader must find a way to mitigate the employees' pressure rather than remove them.
4.4. Legal concerns
The company not complying with the ethical rules will generally face severe concern for breaching the regulation. Business law or the legal concerns related to the business are the set of regulations that monitor the conduct of the business, and this regulation will be changing from region to region (Keller-Krawczyk, 2010, pp. 133-142). The legal concerns of Facebook involve its failure to come up with an effective solution to resolve the fake news circulation among its users. This might put the company under severe legal actions such as lawsuits, testimonies, increased taxes, etc.
5. Ignorance and sustainability
According to the case study by Vox, it is apparent that Facebook, unlike Google, disregards the rising tension caused by the oversharing of fake and preposterous contents. It could be seen from an employee's comment on Facebook's seriousness of the issue. CEO Mark Zuckerberg 'signaled reluctance' regarding the rising dispute on Facebook's fake content sharing. It shows the negligence of the business executive on triple bottom line sustainable business strategy. The triple bottom line is a business concept that claims that the business has to widen its focus to measure the social and environmental impacts and the sole target of generating profits (Miller, 2020). It usually includes people – the focus on the impacts on the primary stakeholders, planet – the focus on the impacts of the organization’s physical environment and nature, and profit –the focus on the effects of economy and revenue (Mukhopadhyay, 2020).
The company primarily focuses on this part of the line, which is considered the standard bottom line. Even though in a tycoon economy, finance plays a vital role in determining the company's success, it is insufficient to calculate the company's sustainability. By constantly ignoring the sensitivity of the issue by covertly discussing developing more features to continue the spread of fake news since it attracts the attention of multiple users, Facebook is killing off itself all along.
The company failed to respect and develop the betterment of its users by letting them acquire unauthentic and baseless information, which significantly influenced them to make the wrong choice. The company has to develop strategies to focus equally on the people too. Google, for instance, according to the case study, has immediately restrained the fake news shared through its platform and developed algorithms to cut off the fake news from accessing the advertising network. The ramifications were a severe decline in profits; however, the company boldly took the risk to protect its reputation and the dignity of its users. Facebook has to be bold enough to make decisions that might affect the company briefly. Nevertheless, people-centeredbusinesses are more inclined to be propitious in the long run. Since the consumer has become more conscious nowadays, the company needs to prepare strategies and features that could convince the conscious consumers (Lynd and Spak, 2021).
Facebook might try to incorporate more content and news related to the benefit of nature. It will mitigate the tension of losing reputation and authenticity in the contents.
6. Four ethical practices and the fake news problem of Facebook
6.1. Conflict of interest
The fake news shared by Facebook triggers a conflict of interest among the specific populace with unethical ideologies and details.
Not every piece of data is free to share everywhere. For instance, the news regarding the personal life of any famous personality reveals a breach of privacy. Facebook or any media that offered a platform to do so have infringed the confidentiality.
6.3. Fulfilling promises
To keep assuring in maintaining the promises and fulfilling the commitment. The leader complying with the company's ethics needs to assure the employees about the effort offered to keep the promises made to the employees, such as increment in salary, vacation breaks, and so on. These leaders will eschew any such situations where they are in a position to bribe or break their promises or commitment and strive to create a law-abiding environment.
6.4. Moral conduct
Acting under moral conduct will help engender a strong reputation among the company and the employees. The people spreading the information shared on social media must be aware of its consequences on themselves and the company. Thus, the leader must be stepping forward in eschewing and obliterating any such actions that undermine the company's respect and reputation and have severe impacts on the workplace environment and must spread the awareness of the influence of fake news in the future of the company (Biswas, 2021). Thus, the leader must bolster the social and professional conduct such that the company's employees would follow it.
As mentioned by the case study, the company could change its format that resembles professional newspapers such as New York Times. Like aforementioned, it must provide high-quality news such as the report discussed in the planet section. The obliteration of fake content is highly difficult and impossible with the freedom of connectivity offered by Facebook. Therefore, I believe by distinguishing the content creators to authentic and non-authentic by providing additional features such as blue tick for the official page or members provided by Twitter. So that at least the users will be aware that the content they are reading is from a non-professional and accordingly its authenticity must be evaluated.
This report aims to analyze the case study and its reliability critically. Throughout the research, I never found any faults or limitations in the case study; however, it could further enhance the analysis by incorporating the impacts of the circulation of fake news in the company's revenue. Apart from that, there are no issues with the case study performed by Vox. Therefore, the report explicitly discussed the problem experienced by Facebook under different ethical considerations and rules. Then with the help of the triple bottom line concept, it is identified where the company is going wrong. Finally, the report provides a suitable and more appropriate solution to restrict the authentic content providers from feigned ones by simply marking blue tick in their profile or changing the content templates.
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