Does 'plundering' information from Facebook raise similar ethical questions to phone-hacking? Glenda Cooper, a lecturer at London's City University, studied the ethical implications of journalists using information from Facebook without the users' permission, as reported by Press Gazette [http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=1&amp;storycode=48789&amp;c=1].
"What kind of journalism are we getting if every part of your life is only a mouseclick away from being splashed across the front page of a national paper?" Press Gazette quotes Cooper as saying. Clearly, taking information that has been made public online is very different to phone-hacking, which involves stealing private information, but it is still using information that was not provided for journalistic purposes.
As journalists frequently have less time to report, due to both financial pressures and the need to break stories online quickly, this kind of "short-cut journalism," using social media to find out about individuals, has increased, the study said.
One example is that "death knock" missions are becoming less common, Cooper said. Another Press Gazette article from February 14 reported on a study that found that personal visits from journalists following sudden deaths may be more welcome to families than relying on social media. A lack of attention on behalf of the press has left some families feeling as if the death of their loved ones had been ignored, found Jackie Newton, of Liverpool John Moores University, and Dr Sallyanne Duncan, of the University of Strathclyde.
This study suggested that the intense scrutiny on journalism prompted by the phone-hacking scandal could mean that reporters might be more likely to avoid talking directly to bereaved families.