The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how some of the information and communication practices of the Tech Media and specifically of Facebook, constitute media corruption. The paper will examine what the professional role of Facebook is regarding its information/communication practices and then demonstrate that Facebook is essentially a media company and not merely a “platform,” therefore liable to the same normative responsibilities as other media companies.
Applying the dual obligation information theory (DOIT), a normative information and communication theory that applies generally to all media companies that disseminate and share information, the paper demonstrates that Facebook’s role of mediating and curating the information of its users places upon it a normative editing responsibility, to ensure both the preventive detection and corrective editing of fake news, as well as other forms of misinformation disseminated on its platform. Finally, applying a philosophical model of media corruption the paper will demonstrate that Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica case was not only unethical but moreover, constituted media corruption.
The paper concludes that Facebook’s media corruption illustrated in the Cambridge Analytica case is not a one-off case but the result of a systemic and inherent conflict of interest between its business model of selling users’ information to advertisers and its normative media role rendering the conflict of interest between those two roles conducive to media corruption.
The paper's originality is twofold. It demonstrates that Facebook is a media company normatively accountable on the basis of an original theory the DOIT and moreover, on the basis of an original media corruption theory its actions in the Cambridge Analytica case constituted media corruption.
The author would like to thank the following people for their help, support and guidance in the publication of this paper. Professor Antonio Marturano, and the other organizers of of the International Conference on Information Law and Ethics, 2019 in Rome, where an earlier conference version of the paper was presented, as well as the reviewers and the editor of JICES, Professor Simon Rogerson, for their useful comments and guidance.
Spence, E.H. (2020), "The sixth estate: tech media corruption in the age of information", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-02-2020-0014Download as .RIS
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