A conceptual analysis of the ethicality of Web-based messaging on the COVID-19 pandemic

Rhoda C. Joseph, Mohammad Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the primary sources and methods of Web-based messaging during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The authors use ethical lens to develop a conceptual framework to inform and reduce conflicts of Web-based messaging associated with COVID-19. Design/methodology/approach: This paper provides a comprehensive review of three different ethical schools and identifies the cohesive theme of common good across them. Common good leading to a greater good serves as the overarching ethical construct for Web-based messages that focus on society and not the singular individual, business or political ideology. Findings: The findings suggest that the ethical construct of common good focuses on prioritizing the society over the individual and draws upon utilitarian principles focused on consequences, Kantian principles focused on intentions and Aristotelian principles focused on the definition of good. Web-based messaging on COVID-19 originates from diverse public and private sources and ethically can be governed by adherence to achieving the greatest good for society. Pervasive conflicts with COVID-19 messaging can be mitigated by pursuing a more ethical agenda with messages. Originality/value: This manuscript provides a conceptual framework, based on ethical principles, to serve as a blueprint for Web-based messaging during a pandemic. This work offers an ethical perspective for communication during a pandemic and it is original in conceptualizing the components of Web-based messaging and decomposing them into the different levels where conflicts can occur. This article can serve as a template for Web-based communication pertaining to future pandemics and other events that benefit from prioritizing the impact on society over the impact on the individual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-460
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 12 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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