Ethics and Information Technology 23 (S1):59-68 (2020)
AbstractPeople share their emotions on social media and evidence suggests that in times of crisis people are especially motivated to post emotional content. The current Coronavirus pandemic is such a crisis. The online sharing of emotional content during the Coronavirus crisis may contribute to societal value change. Emotion sharing via social media could lead to emotional contagion which in turn could facilitate an emotional climate in a society. In turn, the emotional climate of a society can influence society’s value structure. The emotions that spread in the current Coronavirus crisis are predominantly negative, which could result in a negative emotional climate. Based on the dynamic relations of values to each other and the way that emotions relate to values, a negative emotional climate can contribute to societal value change towards values related to security preservation and threat avoidance. As a consequence, a negative emotional climate and the shift in values could lead to a change in political attitudes that has implications for rights, freedom, privacy and moral progress. Considering the impact of social media in terms of emotional contagion and a longer-lasting value change is an important perspective in thinking about the ethical long-term impact of social media technology.
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