Social media and Ethics

The end of 2017 was marked with a scandal that broke the internet. Something more extraordinary than Kim Kardashians ‘champagne butt’ photo, in that, YouTube star and celebrity Logan Paul posted a video exploring the infamous Aokigahara forest with friends as part of his Japan tour. It colloquially known as the ‘suicide forest’ as an infamous destination for the many people who sadly end their lives here. Whilst exploring the forest, Logan Paul and his friends came across a recently–deceased man hanging from a tree. This grim discovery takes a turn for the worse, as Paul insensitively discusses the subject of suicide. He is shown clearly mocking the situation, laughing and joking about the situation with his friends. This comes back to haunt him, as invalidates his initial claims of promoting ‘suicide awareness’. Prior the video’s removal on YouTubenot under YouTube’s community guidelines, but from Logan himselfit had several million views. There was immediate wave of international condemnation, which not only severely damaged Logan Paul’s career as a YouTuber, but, also, started discussions on a very serious subject: the spreading of graphic content on social media. As for Logan Paul’s YouTube video, it is only the most recent of many controversies on the irresponsible spread of graphic content by the media.

One of Sweden’s biggest tabloids, Aftonbladet, recently published an article about a phenomenon that seemingly has become a growing issue; especially in cases when police officers, firefighters and ambulance workers arrive at the scene of emergency. The Stockholm terror attack is a prime example of a recent phenomenon; where the behaviour of a significant amount of the people witnessing a traumatic event can only be described as disturbing. Normally, when a threatening/and or dangerous event occurs, humans respond to this instinctively by choosing the either options of: Fight or flight. Recently, however, another response to catastrophe is capturing the event, whether that may be through photography or video. Emergency events are no longer personal but can be spread through social media for all to see.

During the Stockholm terror attack, victims lied on the ground severely injured, whilst crowds of people started to film and take photographs of them, instead of assisting them. It was even reported that some had taken selfies while at the crime scene, as one takes photos on holiday to show off their experience. Most disturbing of all was the fact a police officer had to forcefully request a blanket to cover a deceased victim who was being photographed by the surrounding crowd. Despite efforts to ensure the victim’s dignity, floods of graphic images from the crime scene were circulated to different social media platforms.

Some might defend the spreading of graphic content as a way of raising awareness for subjects we find it difficult to talk about. Logan Paul defended his video by claiming that he posted it to spread awareness about suicide. When several newspapers in Sweden had the picture of Alan Kurdi, a five-year old refugee who had drowned in the Mediterranean. The extremely graphic image was justified as a way of creating sympathy for the scale and devastating impact of the European migrant crisis. Both of these events were highly criticised as disrespectful to the deceased and for propagating graphic content that was disturbing to see. Graphic content has also been used by political groups to sway public opinion into supporting their political views. Notably, images from the Stockholm terror attack have been twisted and misinterpreted by right wing populists to advocate for more restrictive immigration policies.

This recent incarnation of social media behaviour can be examined through different lens, which may allow us to understand why it occurs. The most obvious being that it is extremely disrespectful. The idea of death to most humans is frightening, and to many, bereavement is the one of the nadirs of human experience. Therefore, it is horrific to imagine that a photo or video is widely available and distributed for strangers to peruse at their behest, yet this graphic content is often exploited.

Another issue of this phenomenon is that the graphic content is distributed recklessly and widely available to anyone, to the extent that it can be inescapable. With the likes of Logan Paul, whose target audience consists primarily of young teenagers, one would expect that an influencer with young viewers to be more responsible. This, however, seems unsurprising considering the desensitisation of violence in media. It can be exceedingly difficult to monitor and filter graphic content, as there are limited systematic controls to ensure that children don’t see problematic content.

This desensitisation to violence also rears its ugly head when victims captured on photographs and video are used as a ‘political football’.  They become a tool for someone’s ideology, and they lose their agency: essentially, they are dehumanised.

There is hope, however, as during = the beginning of 2018, a new legislation was introduced in Sweden. The law, known as the “unlawful violation of integrity” made it criminal to graphic content of other individuals online––without their explicit consent. It is effective in being multi-faceted. As it both tackles the issue of victims of graphic bodily harm (as those in terror events, accidents and disasters), as well as graphic sexual content in the form of ‘revenge porn’. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, there is still much ground to cover. Legislation might help with criminally sanctioning acts that disrespect a person’s integrity and dignity. We must ask ourselves, however, how can we stop dehumanising others? We need to examine the human psychology thoroughly, as we need to realise that behind every graphic post, there will be someone suffering. From a young age, we are all encouraged to show empathy towards others. I believe it is time to understand that this also applies to our behaviour online.


About the author:

Sandra (24) took part in the “My Europe” Workshop in Stockholm in 2014. She is a Juristprogrammet, Master of Laws student at Stockholm University and in her free time Sandra enjoys reading, meeting her friends, travelling and watching documentaries.

The position religion holds in modern Europe

Over the last few thousand years, ever since the dawn of the first civilizations, our ancestors were desperately craving for an explanation  of their surroundings and macrocosm (1).To do so, they had created an innumerable amount of gods in order to satisfy their need for order and security. This has left a great mark on our history and from their creation and survival, nowadays beliefs have emerged to become worldwide dominant religions. This itself, has shaped and developed the way we understand the world and the people around us. We see how these changes have affected us, but the bigger question is- how it will affect us in the future…

According to a research made in 2015 about self-described religious/non-religious perception in the European Union, 71.6% of the people consider themselves Christians, non-believers/Agnosticism makes for about 13.6% on the statistic; Atheism takes 10.4% while Islam is about 1.8% and other religions- 2.6% ( the statistic has been taken from an Eurobarometer survey (2) made in 2012).Having these religions and convictions on the territory of our prosperous EU, today’s society has been greatly influenced in more ways than one- art, music, culture, law and even cuisine are all due to people’s perception, projected through their belief system or in other words-religion.

However, before making any assumptions about the dominant faith in the Union, that is, of course Christianity, we ought to take into account the refugee crisis happening in this very moment with its main mindset- Islam. Bringing these people on European lands and having them crossing our borders, there is no doubt, and I truly believe it, that in 10 years or so, there will be upcoming changes in the jurisprudence system, dress code and ultimately- in our every-day-life and hopefully, these changes will be for the better!

There are two kinds of these people, entering our alliance- the ones who are trying to escape the horrors and nightmares of war and those so called ”economic immigrants’’. Now the question is- how are we supposed to help hundreds of thousands of people, flooding across our borders with their families, belongings and hopes for a better life, seeking peace and safety , because it directly concerns religion, but before we answer that, we have to completely examine the situation- in fact, more and more refugees are actually economic immigrants, seeking the benefits and utility of our European Union’s social help services -”According to the available statistical data, at the end of the third quarter of 2017, authorities in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus registered 146,287 newly arrived migrants – less than half of the total arrivals recorded by the end of September 2016 (322,299). Overall decrease is mainly due to the significant drop in arrivals through the Eastern Mediterranean route, namely Bulgaria and Greece (96% and 86% respectively). However, when analysed closely, these two countries have rather diverse monthly and quarterly dynamic in arrivals between 2016 and 2017.” (The information is taken from The Migration Flows to Europe, provided by the UN Migration Agency (3)).And even though most of the the people are the victims of these tragic events, there is still this percentage of them, whose intentions were, initially and still are, fully profitable.

We seek co-operation. It is obvious that we have to show empathy for the terrors most of these people had to endure, because it is not only our moral right, but also- our human obligation. However, the process works in both ways and they will also have to show respect and regard for the way we choose to live by or in other words- make some adjustments to their characters in order to improve themselves if they are planning to stay, study, work and live here. If they are the victims, trying to escape the terror and chaos they were made to endure, aren’t they the ones to be understandable and happy we have offered them safety? A society that prohibits its women from working and voting does not correspond with our understanding of values and human rights. Such mindset should not be allowed on our territory. You see , these people have to help themselves first, so that we can help them subsequently.

Due to our millennial- long religious and traditional differences, I propose- and this is possibly the best solution for the ongoing crisis- integration, and to be more specific- the integration of these people into our social, political and economic sphere. Integrating them in our educational system in order to learn the language, traditions and history of the country, in which they want to stay into; integrating them into our economic system, so that they can assist and supply the state’s economic sectors ( primary, secondary and tertiary ), but also those of the EU’s as well and lastly- integrating them into our law and political system, when of course, they meet the requirements and are fully aware and qualified for the position on which they will be applying for. In other words – they will have to adjust themselves to our political and juridical system in order to not only vote , but to also represent themselves if they happen to participate in a political election. In this way, we shall make these people fully authorized citizens on the territory of our European Union and prepare them for the future – a future which they will be ready for.

Without a doubt, not everyone will agree or even try to acknowledge the positive side of these transitions, because xenophobia or simple antipathy are not uncommon, but what people must realize, is for without these changes, I fear that racial and ethnical tension and cultural collision with the local population will be inevitable. Moreover, according to the EU Law system – ”Discrimination on the basis of religion is strictly prohibited under European law”. This is maybe one of the biggest and greatest challenges the European Union has faced up to in 21st century, concerning the belief system of all European

As I said, our society has been enormously influenced by the belief and moral systems of all the people, working and living under the protection of the EU. We might all be different, that including gender, race, nationality, ethnicity etc. and believe in different projections of God, including me too, but there is one thing that we all have in common- our human passion, which unites and bonds us together. We cannot stop change- it’s in the natural order of things to not be at one state and to alter, but it is upon us and only us not only to make these changes for the better of our Union, but to also ensure the well-being of the future generations that are yet to be born. Jesus was not a Christian, Mohammad was not a Muslim and Buddha- not a Buddhist. They were teachers who taught love and respect. Love was their religion.

Compassion, peace and tolerance are essentially what a religion has to stand for, in order for us to accept it- among our hearts and ourselves, and we must not stand for anything else, rather than these values. Religion has helped and guided us throughout our history and in our darkest times and there is no reason to believe that this won’t continue in the future. As a great man (4) once said- ”We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell again when touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature”.


About the author:

Radoslav Stefanov (17) goes to high school in Sofia. He is a member of the Working Group Religion. He likes to study languages, especially English and Spanish, and recently started learning Hebrew too. Whenever he has free time he goes to the gym, as his life motto is ‘A sound mind in a sound boudy’.



  1. macrocosm: the whole of a complex structure, especially the world or the universe, contrasted with a small or representative part of it
  4. That great man would be Abraham Lincoln