What ethical issues in Business?!

By now, I have come to terms with the significance of social identity and self-branding on social platforms, and the risks we face if we are to jeopardize this through careless tweets or sharing of disgruntled information. It’s the fact that anything posted online nowadays can be used against you because of your sizeable digital footprint left behind. But what about being authentic and unique? I mean, at the end of the day, how will you get noticed if you don’t spark people’s interest, attention and reaction…especially for employability purposes! (Check out my past posts on these topics!)

Thus, there’s a fine line between being authentic and being plain offensive, and with the arrival relatively unrestricted social channels, consumers are becoming vulnerable to deceptions and scams (Barry, 2014). This is why ethics are being raised left, right and centre; to rein in all the press being produced!

One which I find particularly interesting is publicly disparaging others (e.g., your competition) on social platforms. It can go of two ways- either very bad, to the point that brands endure the backlash from the competitor and its customers, or it can pay off.

Taco Bell took a huge risk recently, releasing an advert to promote their new breakfast menu whilst making their competitor menu, McDonalds, look “old news”. Their ad generated so much interest that they scored higher in likeability than McDonalds! (Vranica, 2014)


Initally only having 200 followers, this was quickly shared on many social platforms across the world
Having 200 followers initially, this quickly increased as her tweet was shared on many social platforms across the world

BUT, it can also go very wrong, especially when you are representing your company and you slate a competitor, or in this case a global issue! As PR executive, Justine Sacco, boarded a plane to Africa, she tweeted a “joke”, unbeknowingly that would be retweeted and shared around the world. As expected, people reacted, negatively! Things started to get out of control as hashtags such as #HasJustineLandedYet developed. Evidently, Justine was fired from her job because of the hysteria caused.

Some of the public's response
Some of the public’s response







To summarise, social media is such a powerful tool used to reach a wide array of people, that with it, it brings ethical issues. As a result, users are expected to understand the importance of posting content and the response that may be portrayed by the rest of the public. That is why I find the ethical issue mentioned above so interesting- it’s the public that have utter control of your reputation once your digital footprint is made, not you!



Barry, J. (2014). 7 Ethical Dilemmas Faced in Social Media Marketing. Available at: blog.socialcontentmarketing.com/7-ethical-dilemmas-faced-in-social-media-marketing/. [Accessed: 20th November 2014]

Courtney. (2013) Justine Sacco and Phil Robertson Learn How This Free Speech Thing Really Works.[Online picture] Available at: http://www.thewellreadherring.com/2013/12/21/phil-robertson-justine-sacco-freedom-of-speech-consequences/. Accessed: 20th November 2014]

Taco Bell. (2014) Get with the Time| 2014 Taco Bell Breakfast Commercial. [Online video] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clZBO_kBgUM  [Accessed: 20th November 2014]

Vinganio, A. (2013) This is how a woman’s tweet became the world’s top story. Buzzfeed. [Online picture] www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/this-is-how-a-womans-offensive-tweet-became-the-worlds-top-s. [Accessed: 20th November 2014]

Vranica S. (2014) How Taco Bell Succeeded by Ignoring a Market Taboo. TheWall Street Journal.  Available at: blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/07/28/how-taco-bell-succeeded-by-ignoring-a-marketing-taboo/[Accessed: 20th November 2014]

My blogs

Mumby, F. (2014) Is having several social identies a good thing? FREYA MUMBY

Mumby, F. (2014) Expression and Connection: the key to developing an authentic profile.  FREYA MUMBY



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