05 Dec Ethics of a Professional Website
According to Dr. Shannon Vallor, “The internet is a medium through which we live our lives” – and thus, there are implications for the ethics of the internet, particularly in the context of what philosophers call “the development of the good life” (Santa Clara University, 2019)
What they mean by “the good life” is an aspirational state in which we have achieved satisfaction, both as individuals, and as a society. Given that the internet plays such a key role in both areas, what do we need to consider when creating internet experiences, from an ethical perspective?
When creating a personal website designed to be the “source of truth” for your professional life, it is important to provide a clear and accurate picture of your professional self, and your professional work and experience. Clarity and accuracy in describing not only companies you have been involved with, and your job title – but the role you played, how you contributed, and the outcomes you were responsible for delivering.
The context of your presence on a professional website is different than your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media in that it needs to reflect an accurate reality of who you really are professionally, rather than a curated, aspirational reality that projects how you want people to think of you.
While there might be cross-over with content on LinkedIn, both in content and audience, a professional website is much more flexible in what content it can showcase, and how it can be displayed. Where the LinkedIn user experience offers users essentially an “apples to apples” comparison of you versus others in your space, by providing the exact same content capabilities, a professional site allows you to showcase yourself the way you choose to.
In building a personal website, you can differentiate yourself, and demonstrate some of your skills (for instance, building a website). However, ensuring your professional site is an accurate representation of your professional self is critical. Ethically, this is not only the right thing to do, but it will serve both you and your audience well when making decisions about whether or not you are the right person for a project or job, or whether the organization is a good cultural fit for you. This is one area that can enable “the good life” both personally, and in society at large, by providing clear, factual information people can trust that enables them to use the site to evaluate you from a reasonable and realistic professional perspective.
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. (2013). Shannon Vallor – On Designing a More Ethical Internet [YouTube Video]. In YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FTXueKHt9M&t=145s
Santa Clara University. (2019). What is Internet Ethics? – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Scu.edu. https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/internet-ethics/resources/what-is-internet-ethics/
Santa Clara University. (2019). About the Center – Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Scu.edu. https://www.scu.edu/ethics/about-the-center/