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Ethics for a Digital Age, Vol. II

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Edited By Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

The second volume of Ethics for a Digital Age contains a selection of research presented at the fifth and sixth Annual International Symposia on Digital Ethics hosted by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. Thematically organized around the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age from a professional (parts one and two) and a philosophical perspective (part three), the chapters of this volume offer the reader a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Just as was the case in the first volume, this collection attempts to bridge applied and theoretical approaches to digital ethics. The case studies in this work are grounded in theory and the theoretical pieces are linked back to specific cases, reflecting the multi-methodological and multi-disciplinarian approach espoused by Loyola’s Center of Digital Ethics and Policy during its eight years of existence. With contributions by experts from a variety of academic disciplines, this work will appeal to philosophers, communication scientists, and moral philosophers alike.

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7. Vigilantism or Outrage: An Exploration of Policing Social Norms through Social Media (Mathias Klang / Nora Madison)

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7.  Vigilantism or Outrage: An Exploration of Policing Social Norms through Social Media

MATHIAS KLANG AND NORA MADISON

Introduction

The idea of cybervigilantes, or digilantes (Byrne, 2013; Chang & Poon, 2016; Huey et al, 2012; Martin, 2007; Marx, 2013), has been gaining traction, but not enough attention has been paid to the question of the legitimacy of the use of the term vigilante and what the use of the term implies in the context of digital media.

This chapter looks at the ways in which acts of online public shaming—often deemed as acts of cybervigilantism—as a reaction to the transgression of a social norm or legal rule may be granted social and ethical legitimacy through the use of the term. Its purpose is to explore the concept of vigilantism and compare it to cybervigilantism in order to better determine the legitimacy of the actors and the accuracy of the term. In connection with this analysis, the alternate and less salubrious term outrage will be explored as a way to gain a better understanding of the intentions of the presumptive vigilante. This chapter will show that technology enables levels of manipulation where certain users cultivate the outrage of others, and through this cultivation compromise the legitimacy of the outrage or vigilantism. A wide range of online acts could in one sense or another fit loosely into the description of vigilantism. It is therefore necessary to...

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