Coercion, Consent, and the Struggle for Social Media

Authored by: Kevin Healey

The Routledge Handbook of Mass Media Ethics

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138681323
eBook ISBN: 9781315545929
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter aims to move beyond the impasse between celebrants and skeptics of social media, to tap the potential of such platforms to support democratic values and institutions. Doing so requires us to move beyond the reining free-market ideology driving debates about consumer privacy, industry regulation, and national security. The chapter argues for a commons-based approach, which suggests that a democratic media system must include elements independent from both state and corporate institutions. This framework views media as a public good. An upshot of this view is that expanding the digital commons requires a substantive level of civic engagement and collective struggle. Social media ethics cannot be reduced to personal conduct, but must question the technologies, legal frameworks and organizational structures that constitute the networked environment within which citizens pursue their personal, social and political goals.

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