Digital Well-Being and Manipulation Online

In Christopher Burr & Luciano Floridi (eds.), Ethics of Digital Well-being: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Springer (forthcoming)

Authors
Michael Klenk
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
Social media use is soaring globally. Existing research of its ethical implications predominantly focuses on the relationships amongst human users online, and their effects. The nature of the software-to-human relationship and its impact on digital well-being, however, has not been sufficiently addressed yet. This paper aims to close the gap. I argue that some intelligent software agents, such as newsfeed curator algorithms in social media, manipulate human users because they do not intend their means of influence to reveal the user’s reasons. I support this claim by defending a novel account of manipulation and by showing that some intelligent software agents are manipulative in this sense. Apart from revealing a priori reason for thinking that some intelligent software agents are manipulative, the paper offers a framework for further empirical investigation of manipulation online.
Keywords Manipulation  Social media  Online manipulation  ethics of technology  well-being  social influence
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