Margalit Toledano, Levarna Fay Wolland

Ethics 2.0: Social media implications for professional communicators

This paper examines ethical implications in the use of social media by professional communicators. Using its research into the experiences of New Zealand practitioners, it identifies major ethical challenges for the profession. It also illustrates how social media intensify ethical issues that public relations has struggled with in the off-line world. At the same time, it shows how social media open opportunities for increasing practitioner influence on organisational ethics in ways long desired by traditional practitioners and recently advocated by public relations academics. It concludes that, despite enabling a lack of transparency and easier deception, social media can help public relations both improve ethical communication with stakeholders, and gain a greater ethical leadership role.

Keywords: public relations ethics, social media, ethical conscience, professional communicators in New Zealand


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Note on the contributor

Dr Margalit Toledano is currently a senior lecturer in the Management Communication Department of the Waikato Management School in New Zealand. She was accepted as a member of the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 2007 and served as PRSA International Delegate-at Large and as co-chair of the PRSA Educational Affairs Committee (CEPR). She studied Public Relations at Boston University on the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Programme (1984-85), became an accredited member of the PRSA in 1985 and served as President of the Israeli Public Relations Association in 1993-1995. As a practitioner in Israel she served both the public and private sectors and ran her own firm. While managing her PR firm she continued to teach public relations in Bar Ilan University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University. Her PhD thesis, from Paris 8 University in France, is entitled The evolution of public relations as a profession in the changing socio-political, economic, and cultural environment of Israel. She is a member of the editorial board of Public Relations Review, in which she has also published a number of articles, has written the chapter on Israeli public relations in the 2009 Handbook of global public relations, and has a chapter in the 2010 Sage handbook of public relations. Contact details: The University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, 3240, New Zealand. Tel. +64-7-8384466 ext 6112; email:

Levarna Fay Wolland is a graduate of the Department of Management Communication, the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Email: