Nooooooo!! My brand new shirt has holes in it!

Credits: Stephanie Mcmillan


There are so many ethical issues out there regarding social media. Many of them come from the ignorance of the people using social media itself – us. How often do we really consider the consequences of what happens after we press the share button?

The internet live stats website actually has a live counter that shows us the total number of internet users in the world (currently at about 3 billion) and how it is still constantly increasing by the minute. You can thus imagine the number of posts, tweets, videos and status updates that are going to the internet every single day! Youtube (2014) states that about 100 hours of videos are uploaded onto Youtube every minute!

I remember a conversation with a good friend of mine when we were discussing about the ethics of using the web in class. We agreed that people often underestimate the power of the share button on the internet. We might have only 100 followers, but that can very much change overnight the moment we post something impactful! She specificially stated “The internet is like a medicinal drug, it can be used to help us but at the same time can go terribly wrong if we abuse it.”

The story shared by professor Lisa on the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet was a good example of how ethical issues on social media can actually cause not only a bad image of ourselves but also indirectly affect our company’s image. Even in a private account, anyone can easily spread what you said.

I personally feel that as future businessmen and women and *winks* marketers, it is important for us to know the ethical issues out there facing our industry. The most impactful ethical issue to me is the problem of misrepresentation.

As buyers of products, how many times have we bumped into a particular product which was not what it claimed to be? A “brand new” shirt which has holes in it, A “non-stick pan” which sticks like crazy or even a product which says “Lose 2 inches off your belly in just 1 week!” but ended up seeing no effects. The problem of misrepresentation and why it is significant to me is because I feel that it is unfair for buyers to be spending their money on “misrepresented” products. As companies or marketers, we should always only promise what we can give.Β  Gaining trust is of utmost importance and we do not wish to come off as “fake” or just a sham. A good example would be New Balance, who was sought out for compensation of $5million after a shoe that they claimed to help burn calories was found out to have no boosted health benefits. Can we really still believe anything that we see on social media nowadays?

 

Who to trust? With nearly half of Americans believing advertising to 'fairly honest', it seems consumers will continue to be tricked into buying disappointing products

Credits: via Daily Mail UK

Bottomline: Be ethical with all your actions, think far ahead of who possibly will be impacted because of your post.

xx

Charmaine

 

References:

Internet Live Stats. 2014. Number of Internet Users (2014) – Internet Live Stats [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

YouTube . 2014. Statistics – YouTube . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

BuzzFeed News. 2014. This Is How A Woman’s Offensive Tweet Became The World’s Top Story – BuzzFeed News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/this-is-how-a-womans-offensive-tweet-became-the-worlds-top-s. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

Business Insider. 2014. 14 False Advertising Scandals That Cost Brands Millions – Business Insider. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/false-advertising-scandals-2011-9?IR=T&op=1. [Accessed 05 December 2014].

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7 thoughts on “Nooooooo!! My brand new shirt has holes in it!

  1. Hi Charmaine,

    The title of your post is so interesting! I was curious about what has topic 3 got to do with ‘My brand new shirt has holes in it!’ which is how I ended up reading your post. I totally agreed with the few points in your post. ‘Sharing’ online is free however, the consequences of sharing without thinking would bring more harm than good to us. If a kid share something insensitive, they may be easily forgiven and given a chance however, as future businessmen and women, we ought to be more mindful when we voice out. Like what you say, we wouldn’t want to misrepresent the organisation that we’d be working for next time. Thanks for helping me to see this issue from your perspective, that sometimes ethical issues regarding social media can also be promoting products that over promised customers. However, it’s true that some products in the market are a scam. Hence, in your opinion, products that are not as good as they being advertised could affect a company’s image more or negative behaviour of employees on social media? I hope to hear from you soon!

    Regards,
    Rachel

    Like

    • Hi Rachel!

      Thank you for thanking the time to read my post! πŸ™‚

      As mentioned in my post, I believe that the main reason why ethical issues exist in social media is because of the users of social media itself, i.e. us. Thus, I feel that negative behaviour of employees on social media will be worse than the misrepresentation of products as employees are the ones planning the advertisements itself. Of course, it also depends on management and the company’s values. In essence, it is up to the employees to decide what they want to do and it is their responsibility to decide if it is ethical to do so or not. If needed, there should be clear guidelines in the company to state exactly what is considered ethical or not in order to minimize such behaviour. I feel that such behaviour can not be totally erased but can be dropped to the minimum.

      Hope I answered your question! πŸ™‚

      Charmaine

      Like

  2. Hi Charmaine!!

    Your title always catch my attention and I always LOVE reading your blog!! I feel you when you talked about product misrepresentation! All my fingers and toes can’t even count the number of times i’ve been mislead (okay, actually countable but you get my point!) I once bought a product that claims to be hypoallergenic and lo and behold, rashes broke out on my face 😦 Now I count on word of mouth before I buy products. It’s usually more reliable!

    But why do you think that even though a brand did not live up to it’s promises, people still continue to buy from them? It seems that some brands can get away from misrepresentation. How do you think we can educate people about ethical use of social media or is it impossible seeing that there are so many people using the net.

    Looking forward to more great posts and catchy titles!

    Yu Ting πŸ˜€

    Like

    • Hi Yu Ting!! πŸ™‚

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I also suffer from sensitive skin and know how it feels like to be “cheated” by products such as the one that you mentioned! In fact, I think that such companies should not be claiming to be hypoallergenic as being allergic to products can cause very huge complications that the company might not be able to compensate in the future. Yes, now that consumers are getting more and more tech-savvy, we can easily read reviews online, hear from word-of-mouth through friends and family or even through forums. However, we also need to know which ones to trust or not. I have experiences of going to food places where I was recommended to but it ended up being only so-so. A good example would be the llaollao craze going on right now. Yes it is nice, but is spending up to 30 minutes of your time queuing up for it really worth it?

      I asked myself the same question that you asked and thought deeply about it. I feel that despite for e.g. fast food restaurants have their food looking appetizing and pretty in their advertisements as compared to the reality of it, many people still allow themselves to fall for it and end up ordering or craving for fast food the next moment. I believe that most of us could be used to it in a sense? After awhile of purchasing disappointing products, we tell ourselves to drop our expectations and expect less from the actual product, which should not be the case. I think having a good customer base also plays a part. Maybe those who have loyal customers like Mcdonalds will continue buying from them despite the disappointment.However, in terms of products like the hypoallergenic ones that you mentioned, I think it is less tolerable.

      I think we can educate people more about taking the responsibility of checking reviews of the products they want before they actually purchase it. This way, we can minimize the risks of us being duped into buying products that do not work. In the case that they are in fact duped, they should immediately voice it out to deter others from buying the product. With no one buying the product, companies will be less likely to commit such acts.

      Hope this answers your question! Thank you ❀

      Charmaine

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your last sentence nailed my sentiments Charmaine!

    “Be ethical with whatever you do, think about those who may be possibly affected by your actions”.

    I strongly believe that there isn’t anything such as social media ethics; but humanist principles do exist.

    Simple things such as – Will our words or actions hurt others? How would we want to be treated?
    Are we mindful of what we say? Do we consider the consequences of what we say or do, etc.
    These are principles that should stick with us regardless of whether we are online or in a real-life situation.

    In words of Melissa Zhang, “Social media does not create, but magnifies, the good, bad, and ugly of everyday life”. Put simply, social media is a medium, it is the user that counts!

    Thank you Charmaine for the great post, engaging and interesting!

    Like

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