Being Better Online: The Ethics of Social Media

Social media is a mess. Philosophers have recently helped catalogue some of the various ills.

Speaker: Dr. Joe Saunders (Durham)

In this talk, I will relay some of this conceptual work on virtue signalling, piling on, ramping up, echo-chambers, epistemic bubbles, polarization, moral outrage porn, and the gamification of communication. In drawing attention to these things, philosophers hope to steer us towards being better online. One form that this takes is a call for more civility (both online and off). There is a good case to be made for this; social media is a mess, and we should be kinder and look to communicate better with each other. But there is also a good objection: Civility, and calls for civility and politeness, can placate serious resistance to power and wrongdoing. What we ought to be doing is resisting power, looking to protect democracy and mitigate the climate crisis. And given that, so the objection goes, focussing on civility is at best wrong-headed, and at worse counterproductive to real needed change. How then are we to negotiate the call for civility with the need for real change? The hope is that we can be better online and work towards serious change together.

All are welcome to attend: Seminar Room 2, IDEA Building (17 Blenheim Terrace) or MS Teams – please email Andrew Kirton for a link