Ethics≠Morals–And Other Definitions

Ethics–a rational process founded on certain agreed-on principles when deciding between two unappealing options. Commonly accepted behavior, for example.

This is not to be confused with morals:

Morals–fall into the realm of religion IE The Ten Commandments. Learning right from wrong, for example.

Clarification as according to the book, “Media Ethics”: Ethics happens when there are conflicting decisions within a system of morals.

For further clarification, please see Wise Geek’s explanation.

With social media at the forefront of new and exciting marketing tactics, it was only a matter of time before the matter of ethical decision making came into play. Just like every other business model, those in social media need to be aware of the ethical issues in their industry. Here are some basic ethical practices you should know as any contemporary professional:

When it comes to ethics there is no blatant right or wrong answer. The answer exists within yourself , but you wont come to any conclusions without internally grappling with the problem first.

Some believe that ethics cannot be taught, however learning to think about ethics can be learned by anyone.

There are many tools one can use to figure out if a situation is ethical or not, and in this blog we will be using those tools to analyze compromising situations in our field.

***The Radio Television Digital News Association has recently addressed the ethical dilemmas that occur within social media, and have begun to create a code of ethics that can be applied to websites like blogs and Twitter. Some of these guidelines may be found here.***



Filed under Lisa Shea's Blog

8 responses to “Ethics≠Morals–And Other Definitions

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Having taken an ethics course at my community college this past summer, I completely agree with your statement that some think ethics cannot be taught. I tend to believe that ethics is typically situational-based. You can only decide what is the right or wrong thing to do by assessing the situation. There is no absolute right or wrong. In one of my PR classes this semester, we discussed ethics and corporations that faced ethical crises. It was very interesting to see what different companies considered was the ethical action to take and I look forward to reading more of your posts regarding this topic.

  2. Michelle Ackerman


    I often get confused on the definition of ethics. Like you said in your post, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to ethics. I’m still a little bit confused on the topic of ethics, so I look forward to your future posts to learn more.

  3. Chelsea Brooks

    Since social media tools are so new, I’m sure that ethical lines have not been drawn quite yet. I agree that ethics are important to think about when it comes to social media. Definitely at this point in the evolution of social media, ethical decisions will be completely situational based and internal. I think eventually answers to ethical questions will be more easily answered, once the medium becomes more widely used.

  4. I like how you gave definitions to distinguish the differences between ethics and morals. They are two concepts that seem to often be confused, but are an essential part in using the emerging social media tools. I honestly feel uninformed about ethics concerning media practices of companies and organizations, although most companies seem to have a code of ethics and/or guidelines. Do specific industries tend to have more prevalent codes of ethics? Also, how do morals come from religious ideals?

    Are there hyperlinks included in this post? If so, they aren’t clicking through.

    I’m looking forward to learning more about ethics in your future posts.

  5. Sarah Bruton

    This is a great point you bring up and makes you think about your own personal use with social media outlets. The broad audience that participates in these networks have varying opinions on what they feel is appropriate and what isn’t. I have to admit that I may see someone’s post on Facebook as unnecessary and dumb, but that personal close friends may know the inside joke which makes it important to them. I think companies should have a personal statement that informs the public about their standards and practices. This way when they react to a situation, readers will know that their actions were appropriate in accordance to there business standards.

  6. Anne

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m writing a paper on ethics and journalism, and I was wondering where you found the picture in this article. It’s really apt!

    Can you let me know?


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