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Document Details :

Title: Online Chat - a Hatchery of Lies?
Subtitle: Towards an Ethical Analysis of Truth and Lying in Internet Chatrooms
Author(s): HOLDERIED-MILIS, Victoria
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 17    Issue: 1   Date: 2010   
Pages: 95-118
DOI: 10.2143/EP.17.1.2046959

Abstract :
Communication in chatrooms, as a specifically virtual and anonymous form of discourse, has become a mass phenomenon. The aims of this paper are to demonstrate a) how chatrooms provide an environment that facilitates and even encourages the process of lying, and b) what consequences this entails for its users. Therefore, in a first step, I elaborate on the general characteristics of the chat medium and how these deeply influence speech and behaviour in chatrooms. I conclude that the medium can be a highly challenging and potentially harmful environment when it comes to telling the difference between truth and lies and demonstrate that the users make use of anonymity to conceal lies in an unprecedented manner. Secondly, I present a three-dimensional ethical model by E. Schockenhoff that is based on traditional Christian thinking on truth and lying, and comprises logical, personal and communicative dimensions. Third, as core element, I evaluate the lie-facilitating characteristics of chat against the background of this theological model of truth and lying. In this analysis I show that chatrooms remain a place where truth is exposed to considerable risk, but that the consequences of lying are as far reaching as in real life. Despite this, chatrooms have become so popular, because they nevertheless provide a place where community and moral support can be found.

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