SOCIETY'S USE OF ICT

Online Behaviour, Computer Viruses & Political and Ethical Issues

Online Behaviour, Computer Viruses & Political and Ethical Issues

Given the anonymous nature of the Internet, people may behave more boldly or more anti-socially than they would in real life.

Flaming is a term used to describe the posting of deliberately offensive or provocative comments on public forums or video-sharing websites. Whereas it is true that the recipients of these messages may live on the other side of the world, people can still get very angry or upset by them.

Webcams – People are perhaps less inhibited about using the Internet to post sensitive images of themselves to other people. There is the danger, however, that these images may be shared in the wrong way. It is best to avoid sending these kinds of images altogether.

Spam is legally defined as ‘unsolicited commercial email’. Many email packages contain spam filters which will divert spam into a separate file.

Cyber bullying is the use of the Internet or other technologies to bully people. It can cause distress and in some extreme cases to murder or suicide. Young people especially are advised to be extremely careful who they share their details with.

GCSE ICT - Computer chatIn chat rooms people are able to pose as someone they are not. Young people are advised not to meet anyone they meet on a chat room, or to take friends with them if they do.

Slander (spoken) or libel (written) is a public statement made about an individual or organisation which unfairly damages their reputation. Slander and libel are unethical and may result in an expensive court case.

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Computer viruses

GCSE ICT - Computer VirusViruses are probably the biggest threat facing computer users today. They are little programs designed to do harm to your files and software. Some can cause your computer to become sluggish. Others can do great harm to everything you have stored on your hard drive. Once a virus has attached itself to a program it will replicate itself over and over again. This can waste hours of hard work or, at worst, destroy a company completely.

A virus is normally disguised as a harmless download which the unsuspecting user happily opens. It may be sent via email, on a harmful website or even disguise itself as antivirus software. There are a number of ways to defend your computer against such harmful programs.

  • Do not open an attachment unless you know what it is and where it is from.
  • Do not visit suspicious websites.
  • Install recognised anti-virus and anti-spy software and update it regularly.
  • Run an anti-virus and anti-spy scan on your computer every few days.

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Political and ethical issues

‘Big Brother is Watching You’

The popular reality show Big Brother gets its name from Orwell’s nightmarish novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the state watches every move its citizens make using surveillance and video technology. Many people think that aspects of this novel have come true.

GCSE ICT - CCTV CameraWhy? Surveillance cameras, reality shows, the building up of national databases, Google’s new policy of tracking online behaviour, the use of personal Facebook information by employers and universities – this all points towards the growth of a spy culture. Many people feel very strongly that our rights as citizens are being slowly taken from us.

In Orwell’s novel the government tries to make itself seem friendly by calling itself ‘Big Brother’, and yet what it really wants to do is control the way people behave. In our society the state seems more and more concerned with how we live our lives. Some people have called it a ‘nanny state’. No wonder Orwell’s famous line keeps coming back to haunt us: ‘Big Brother is watching you’.