Topic 4- Ethical Issues of Business’ Use of Social Media


Ethics relate to doing what is right, and in businesses using social media for numerous objectives many ethical reasons can arise. These include integrity risk, recruitment practices as well as unethical advertising through means such as spam. In this blog I will specifically target the issue of social media use damaging a firms integrity and reputation.

Integrity by definition is being honest and having a strong moral principle. Relating this to a business, acting with integrity would be to firmly sticking to the corporation’s code of ethics and morals. In employees using social media for personal as well as on behalf of the corporation in an irresponsible way in reflecting the firm, if their integrity gets damaged it can be very hard to build back.

As the stat below shows, integrity risk is a huge ethical issue for firms.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 02.35.09Infographic Created by Jordan Dan. Data used from (Institute of Business Ethics, 2011),

The following video highlights how Nestle’s sarcastic responses to GreenPeace activists caused a social media nightmare for the brand. The actions by the employee was a clear breach of Nestle’s code of business conduct; ‘avoid any conduct that could damage or risk Nestle or its reputation’.

(McCarthy, C. (2017))

Another example of employees damaging a firm’s reputation would be that of the Justine Sacco case. Albeit, this was a case of indirect damage to the firm she worked for her actions of tweeting racist views (she claims were misinterpreted) caused such backlash her employers IAC sacked her due to the negative associations it bought to the company.

The video below also shows the effects a single tweet can cause.

(Ronson, J. (2017)


This extends further as business’ are therefore faced with ethical issues of whether or not it is right to monitor their employee’s private social media accounts. Are their employees not entitled to their freedom of speech to express their views? Even in cases such as the one of Justine Sacco where the firm wasn’t even involved in her comments was it fair for her to loose her job? Surely there must be a line where employees have a right to privacy.

This topic is important to myself as a student, as in the coming years I will hopefully go into working in a professional environment and having the freedom to express myself is something I am particularly concerned about. This is where I feel this topic relates directly to Topic 2; where I stated I feel it is appropriate to have multiple identities when it comes to being professional vs personal.


Institute of Business Ethics. (2011). The Ethical Challenges of Social Media. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

McCarthy, C. (2017). Nestle mess shows sticky side of Facebook pages. [online] CNET. Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017]. (2017).  [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Online Reputation Management, Igniyte. (2017). Protecting Your Company’s Reputation From Employee Risk. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Ronson, J. (2017). How one tweet can ruin your life | Jon Ronson. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Spanos, P., Stahlbaum, J. and Zelmer, J. (2017). Nestle – A Social Media Nightmare. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Infographics created by Jordan Dan


One thought on “Topic 4- Ethical Issues of Business’ Use of Social Media

  1. Hi Jordan,

    I like how you have chosen to interpret Topic 4 by focusing on the behaviour of individuals within a business as representatives of their organisation. This becomes particularly important in the interconnected digital age where, as your Nestle example proves, one wrong move online can cause a chain reaction which can be hugely damaging to brand reputation and directly affect revenue. I found this particularly relevant to my recent dissertation research which looked at the shift from traditional to digital marketing. Businesses must adapt quickly to put their content where the people are, producing effective and unassailable social media strategies.

    The recent case of a United Airlines passenger being brutally dragged from his seat was able to rapidly spark public anger thanks to circulation via social media. In your opinion, how could the company have better recovered the situation, and are the individuals who forced the man off the plane to blame?

    Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.



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