Now that people interact with social media on their wireless phones, that opens up a whole new series of issues, hence those involved in the law and with the ethical issues will "need to abandon some of the presumptions we once made in e-contracting in light of peoples' changing behavior" (Moringiello).
Meanwhile, what exactly constitutes Internet abuse in the workplace and what role does ethics play? There are some working definitions, such as "cyberloafing," "Internet recreation," "cyberslacking" for leisure or simply "Internet abuse" (Lee, et al., 2008, p. 39). For some researchers Internet abuse is the "personal or unauthorized use of the company's network for an individual pleasure or non-work purposes" (Lee, 39). No matter how it is defined, it is clear that workers who surf the Web during work hours cause "productivity loss" and they open the door for the "vulnerability of information systems security from insiders as well as outsiders" (Lee, 39). When it comes to ethical computer-related behaviors, researchers in the field of ethics define unethical behavior as something "…illegal or morally unacceptable to the larger community" (Lee, 39).
Meanwhile, as to how to reduce or prevent Internet abuse, existing studies are using the General Deterrence Theory (GDT); the GDT posits -- and this relates back to Second Life and the fact that users can and do hide their identities -- that "people would engage in criminal and deviant activities if they do not fear apprehension and punishment" (Lee, 39). The authors assert that while companies try to reduce the frequency and volume of computer abuse, this kind of abuse is expected to "continue increasing" as more workers become "highly sophisticated" in information systems. For example, how can a company monitor a private iPhone that a worker is secretly using to text or Skype with his girlfriend. He's not using the company computer, so, how do they catch him and punish him? These are unanswered questions but they deal with ethics.
An article in the journal Psychology & Marketing uses the phrase "personal values" rather than ethics, but it seems to serve the same purpose. Schiffman, et al., surveyed 506 Internet users to compare individuals' personal values with Internet behaviors. The authors posit that personal values are more important than "attitudes" because personal values is a determinant of attitudes and behavior (Schiffman, 2003, p. 171). A personal value is "…an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally and socially preferable to alternative modes of conduct or end-states of existence" (Schiffman, 170). The results of this survey show that of those who use the Internet for "work/business," 79% scored high on "a sense of accomplishment" and 73% scored high on "self-fulfillment" (Schiffman, 177). On the other hand, of those using the Web for "fun and entertainment" 76% scored high on "self-fulfillment" and 68% scored high on "security." Of those using online for making travel reservations, 78% scored quite high on the personal value "a sense of accomplishment." In short, those respondents that chose "self-fulfillment" as their strongest personal value "indicated stronger agreement with the notion that the Internet was 'enabling' than did those who chose 'security', 'self-respect', 'fun and enjoyment in life', or 'being well respected'" (Schiffman, 181).
In conclusion, the line from Linden Lab that explains, "It's our job to make dreams come true for our customers," should perhaps have an addition phrase tacked on: "We also help create nightmares if you're not a savvy user." The article about Second Life is very informative, and for those who are not familiar with what it's like in a virtual world, that article offers a strong taste of what is in there. The other articles used in this paper point to personal values and ethical consideration that are related to use of the Internet. Being well read and well informed about all aspects of the online cultures out there is a good way to avoid being harmed, ripped off, or just extremely disappointed.
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Moringiello, Juliet M., and Fleming, Michael F. (2008). More…