Gaming Google: Some Ethical Issues Involving Online Reputation Management

Journal of Business Ethics Education 10:61-81 (2013)
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Abstract

Using the search engine Google to locate information linked to individuals and organizations has become part of everyday functioning. This article addresses whether the “gaming” of Internet applications in attempts to modify reputations raises substantial ethical concerns. It analyzes emerging approaches for manipulation of how personally-identifiable information is accessed online as well as critically-important international differences in information handling. It investigates privacy issues involving the data mining of personally-identifiable information with search engines and social media platforms. Notions of “gaming” and “manipulation” have negative connotations as well as instrumental functions, which are distinguished in this article. The article also explores ethical matters engendered by the expanding industry of reputation management services that assist in these detailed technical matters. Ethical dimensions of online reputation are changing in the advent of reputation management, raising issues such as fairness and legitimacy of various information-related practices; the article provides scenarios and questions for classroom deliberation.

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Jo Ann Oravec
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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