What I learned about business ethics by reading ‘An Ugly Truth’  

I am very interested in decision-making in organizations as well as in social media. This means a book like ‘An Ugly Truth – Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination’, by Frenkel and Kang is a double whammy for me.

The book describes the different scandals Facebook has been involved in in the past couple of years (e.g the Russian interference in US presidential elections, Cambridge Analytica, and the mass murder of Rohingya people in Myanmar). These scandals are well known and well documented in other books. The added value of this book is that it describes the decision-making process of the top leadership of Facebook with regard to these scandals.

What is even more interesting is the link the book makes between the motivation and ethics of the key decision-makers on the one hand and their decisions on the other.

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Censorship, social media, and self-confident societies

The Power of debate in the public domain

The invention of the printing press proved to be a pivotal point in the development of our society because it enabled the dissemination of ideas and information at an unprecedented pace. It is unlikely that, without the printing press, the Reformation in the 16th century would have had such a huge impact, so quickly.

In the 20th century, radio and television increased the speed of information even more. It is likely that the public opinion about the war in Vietnam (the first television war) changed significantly as a result of the coverage of this war on television.

Social media emerges

No wonder that many governments tried to control these media, either in the form of censorship, or by creating monopolies for news dissemination (e.g in the former Soviet Union).

At the end of the 1990s, social media platforms started to emerge, disrupting the traditional media landscape of newspaper, radio, and television organizations. 

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