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Social Media, Ethics, and You

Social media is an important topic for college students, especially in 2020, due to the increased usage of the platforms that has resulted from the worldwide societal effects of COVID-19.

The fallout from this rise in usage was the focus of a virtual panel titled “Social Media, Ethics and You” conducted last month as part of Ethics Awareness Week, an annual series of events organized under the banner of VSU’s Office of Internal Audits. Ethics Weeks is a statewide affair sponsored by the University System of Georgia.

The panel consisted of several people from different departments of VSU, some alumni and students, answering important questions about how social media should be used.

The panel agreed that this year has emphasized how people absorb the news they find on social media. Negative news has had a bigger impact than positive news. .

A popular topic for discussion was the question of whether students could trust what they were seeing on social media. More students believe whatever they read on social media, and they do not do their own research on the topic.

“Fast news is easier than research,” Georgia Wynn, a sophomore English major, said. Justin Arrington, interim chief legal affairs officer, said sometimes people will believe what they see on social media because it targets their beliefs.

“Partly because some things jump out at you, and you already believed those things anyway because they align with your beliefs,” said Arrington.

The panel reassured listeners to not believe the first pop-up they read on social media and to do their research.

When it comes to what is legal and illegal to post online, an individual can post their opinions and beliefs if it is not threatening. Threats are illegal and cannot be posted online, and they are especially taken seriously when a user tags another user. When this happens, these posts can even be used as evidence in the court of law.

Sometimes people believe a person should be arrested because they disagree, however, this is not the case.

Another big topic for conversation was what should and should not be posted on private social media accounts, taking into account potential employers who may be watching. Advice given to students during the discussion included to not post anything on a professional resume account, such as LinkedIn, that would hinder a job applicant from looking professional, such as religious beliefs or political officiations.

“Be careful because once you put it out there it’s out there,” Darius L. Anthony, assistant director of career opportunities, said.

Kevin Overlaur, chief information officer, also offered guidance.–

“If I was giving any advice in regard to social media, less is more,” he said. Once hired for the job, an applicant becomes a representative of that company and their social media footprint must adhere to that company’s core values. The applicant should make sure they can accept the values outlined by their employee contract.

“If you don’t agree with it, it’s your right to ask questions about what is being presented in front of you,” said Anthony.

Written by Sam Acevedo. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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