May 29, 2012
The role that the Internet plays in our lives today is truly astounding.
Facebook’s IPO is an indicative example. The second largest in the U.S. it raised $16 billion, selling 421 million shares at $38.00 a share. At that price, the share is selling at 108 times earning! The price dropped some 20% since the offering. Facebook has approximately 800 million active users worldwide and only 1,300 employees, many of whom have become quite wealthy since the IPO.
According to the European Travel Commission - New Media Trend Watch there were 2.3 billion internet users (2,279,709,629) worldwide in the first quarter of 2012, which represents approximately 30% of the world’s population.
From an ethics point of view, the Internet presents some interesting challenges. It is a tool in communication that can be used for evil as well as for good.
Crimes such as people trafficking for prostitution, child pornography and fraud are facilitated by the Internet.
On May 22nd. Interpol announced a global operation targeting individuals using social networking sites such as Facebook, to exchange child abuse material. Interpol arrested 55 suspects in 20 countries and rescued 12 children.
The Jewish Orthodox community in New York is aware of the risks of the Internet. On Sunday May 20th 2012 a gathering of some 40,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews in Citi Field to alert their community on the risk of the Internet such as addiction and pornography, and how to use it in a religiously responsible way. One of the organizers said: “The risk comes not only from pornography but from social media and the addictive pull of the Internet, which can limit human interaction, reading and study.” He added: “These are the same concerns that people across society - in academia, in psychology, parents, spouses have about the Internet.”
The Internet can also be an amazing tool for good.
The Jed Foundation whose mission is to prevent suicide among college students uses social media in its prevention strategy. John MacPhee, its executive director, said, “There are a huge number of students who aren’t talking about their distress. Social media is a vehicle for communication and education to help understand what is going on with themselves or friends.”
Last week, Children’s Right launched, with the help of RF Studios, an interactive Facebook experience organized called “Trapped” that allows the user to get more information about the tragic situation of many children’s in the Foster care system. Marcia Lowry, the Founder and Executive Director of Children’s Rights says: “Few people know that many children exit foster care far worse off than when they entered… Trapped? is a compelling means of informing a wide swath of the public about these grim realities.”
Ultimately, as responsible human beings, it is really about the moral choices we make. It is up to us to “do the right thing” whether in the cyber world or in the “real” world.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.