The term "computer ethics" refers to a code of conduct users abide by while using an electronic device. The term is often used when people utilize a computer to do something morally objectionable, illegal or violates a person's beliefs. Examples can include copyright infringement, unauthorized distribution of content or pretending to be someone else in a chat room.
Computer ethics often determine an individual's actions while online. They can affect how the person interacts socially, promotes herself or uses the Internet. These ethics may be based on a formal or informal code. The outcome of any ethical situation comes down to a personal code.
The concept of computer ethics is fairly new; the term was coined in 1950. As technology grew, the term was used to refer to many different subjects. In the early 2000s, for example, the term was often included in discussions about Internet privacy and how large corporations should share sensitive data.
Computers continue to create ethical dilemmas. One example is how people use information on social networks. People can discover many details about others by reading profiles or posts anonymously. Ethical issues arise when third parties store, share or use this information in a way that harms the original poster.