A great amount of responsibility comes with new opportunities, however. The influence that the internet can have on your life and others’ lives makes it incredibly important that we follow certain ethical standards for using the internet, social media, and even just a computer. I know, I know. It sounds boring as hell, but it truly is crucial that we do our best to follow certain standards to sustain (or even build) our personal reputation and to ensure that we don’t damage others’.
Contrary to popular belief, you are not all that anonymous on the internet. Anyone who really wants to could find the IP address that you used to post something and then get your in-real-life address and distribute it across the web (this is known as doxxing).
“Wait what? So me posting something racist on the internet is unethical but a person getting my IP address IS ethical?” Well no. These are two examples of using a computer for unethical reasons. The person posting the racist comment may be utilizing their freedom of speech, but they are opening themselves up to a multitude of criticism, damaging their online reputation, and they could even completely ruin their career. The guy doxxing people he doesn’t agree with or just for the heck of it is just as bad‒if not, worse. He is releasing someone’s personal information without their knowledge or consent, which is a really crappy thing to do. In fact, this is even illegal and you could face legal repercussions if you do it and are caught.
It is becoming a fact of life that technology will continue to be more involved in our daily lives, so it is more important now than ever that we maintain a professional online presence. Over 60 percent of employers search for candidates through social media, so if you are posting pictures of you doing semi-illegal activities or if every other word you post rhymes with bit, duck, or sholly, you should probably do some house cleaning.
The internet has also provided us with 1.2 petabytes of free information (for the most part), which means that stealing is also a lot easier. And no I’m not talking about stealing someone’s car or heart, I’m talking about plagiarism. You have probably plagiarized without even realizing it before, as simply forming the same opinion as someone else and writing it down after they did and not giving them credit, is technically considered plagiarism.
It is critical that you avoid plagiarism at all costs, especially when writing an important essay or speech, as plagiarism can be taken extremely seriously at the college level.
Computer ethics is an important field that has emerged just in the past few decades. It is important to follow a certain moral standard on the internet and while using a computer, as certain actions on the internet could literally ruin your life or put you in a jail cell. The internet can still be a fantastic place to share ideas and collaborate with others (particularly with programming), but you must follow guidelines to maintain professionalism. When it really comes down to it, it is important to remember four things: don’t upload questionable pictures or text submissions, don’t steal someone else’s work (or if you do, give some credit), absolutely don’t give out someone else’s personal information, and don’t tamper with a system you don’t own. If you follow all of that, you're good. But of course, these only apply if you are not in a position of power. If you are, then do the exact opposite of what I just said if you aren’t already. Who’s gonna stop you? The internet police?