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Practice Cyberethics: Ethics on the Internet, Conduct, Code of Behavio... Skip to content

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Practice Cyberethics

Learn to obey the laws that apply to online behavior

Ethics are principles or standards of human conduct. Cyberethics is a code of behavior on the Internet.

Based on common sense and good judgment, cyberethics also includes obeying laws that apply to online behavior. When you practice cyberethics, you are more likely to have a safer and enjoyable Internet experience.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • DO use the Internet to communicate and interact with other people. Email and instant messaging make it easy to stay in touch with friends and family members, communicate with work colleagues, and share ideas and information with people across town or halfway around the world. Participating in Internet forums and social networking sites are also great ways to engage with people online.
  • DON'T be a cyberbully. Treat people online the way you would if you were talking to them face-to-face. Be considerate and respectful. Don't be rude or mean, don't use bad language, and don't make threats or attempt to humiliate other people. When you type, make sure your Caps Lock key is off or people might think that you're screaming.
  • DO report cyberbullying. Keep a record of every comment you receive from a cyberbully; contact the cyberbully one time only and tell him to stop bothering you. If behavior doesn't change, then report the bully to the proper authorities.
  • DON'T encourage cyberbullies. If someone you encounter online insults you or says something threatening, just ignore them. Engaging or arguing with cyberbullies might encourage even worse behavior. If you refuse to respond, there is a good chance they will move on and stop bothering you. If a cyberbully harrasses you through email or instant messaging, you can also use the built-in filters to prevent further contact.
  • DO use the Internet for research and information. The Internet is like the world's largest library, packed full of information on every conceivable subject, from ancient history to current events, from math and science to art and anthropology. The information you find online can help you to manage your life, to improve your work and to make important decisions with greater confidence.
  • DON'T use copyrighted information as your own. The Internet has such a wealth of information that it can be tempting to copy and reuse information you find online. Presenting information from the Internet as your own work is not only dishonest, it could be illegal. If the material is copyrighted, then by law it belongs to someone else. If you use it without permission or appropriate attribution, you might be violating copyright laws.
  • DO enjoy music, videos and games on the Internet. There are many websites where you can sample new music, watch movies and other videos, or play and learn about computer games.
  • DON'T download or share copyrighted information. If you download and distribute copyrighted music, videos, games or other materials over the Internet without proper payment or permission, you are stealing.
  • DO shop, bank and pay bills online. The Internet makes it easy and convenient to manage many tasks online, which can save time and money.
  • DON'T share personal information too easily. Be careful about the type and amount of information you share with people online. Beware especially of people you don't know or questionable websites that might not be secure. Revealing personal information can make you a target for online criminals or cyberbullies. To help ensure you're on a secure site, check to see if the URL begins with https (the "s" stands for "secure"). Also, look for a green address bar or a security certificate — represented by an icon such as an unopened lock — somewhere in the browser window. Double-click the certificate to make sure the name on the Web address matches the certificate.
  • DO use the Internet to expand your social and business networks. Social and business networking sites can help you locate old friends and make new ones, create and maintain valuable professional contacts, and build your online reputation.
  • DON'T lie. When you're interacting with people online, be honest, and never pretend to be someone else. If someone asks you a question that makes you uncomfortable or asks you to reveal too much personal information, just don't answer.

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