The Ethics of Quitting Social Media

In Carissa Véliz (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics. Oxford, UK: (2021)
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There are prima facie ethical reasons and prudential reasons for people to avoid or withdraw from social media platforms. But in response to pushes for people to quit social media, a number of authors have argued that there is something ethically questionable about quitting social media: that it involves — typically, if not necessarily — an objectionable expression of privilege on the part of the quitter. In this paper I contextualise privilege-based objections to quitting social media and explain the underlying principles and assumptions that feed into these objections. I show how they misrepresent the kind of act people are performing in quitting, in part by downplaying its role in promoting reforms in communication systems and technologies. And I suggest that this misrepresentation is related to a more widespread, and ultimately insidious, tendency to think of recently-established technological states of affairs as permanent fixtures of our society.

Author's Profile

Robert Mark Simpson
University College London


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