Syllabus for Ethics and the Internet: Social Media, Fake News and Big Data

Etik och internet: sociala medier, fejknyheter och stora datamängder


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 5FP111
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Practical Philosophy A1N

    Explanation of codes

    The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:

    First cycle

    • G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
    • G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
    • G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
    • GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

    Second cycle

    • A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    • A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
    • A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
    • AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified

  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2022-08-30
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: Spring 2023
  • Entry requirements:

    180 credits, or equivalent, including 60 credits in philosophy, aesthetics, musicology, literature or art history. Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6.

  • Responsible department: Department of Philosophy

Decisions and guidelines

The course may run jointly with the course 5FP112 at C level. The course requirements are higher on students at advanced level than on C level students.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • describe and explain various pressing ethical and epistemological issues related to social media and Internet-related technologies
  • recognize the ways in which philosophical arguments concerning particular ethical issues can shed light on more general moral theories and principles
  • analyze and critically engage with contemporary philosophical essays and arguments with clarity and precision, both orally and in writing
  • develop cogent philosophical arguments of their own and to compose longer and increasingly original analytical essays that offer constructive responses to ongoing philosophical debates.


This course focuses on ethical and epistemological issues that arise given the ubiquity of the Internet and the ocean of information available both to us and about us. How, if at all, should internet technologies, including social media and utilization of so-called "big data", be regulated? What should governments, parents, and employers be able to learn about you based on your digital footprint? Questions concerning privacy, autonomy, surveillance, informed consent, and the extent to which values should constrain technology will be discussed. The course will also investigate questions concerning knowledge, objectivity, trust, and polarization in the Internet Age, including how to understand and combat the prevalence of fake news, conspiracy theories, and echo chambers.


Lectures and discussion seminars. The lecture-style will be thoroughly interactive. Students are expected to participate and contribute.


Two short writing assignments to be completed during the course, a take-home essay-based exam at the end of the course, and an additional essay of 3000 words.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Spring 2023

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

Reading List

Readings are announced here or in Studium at the latest five weeks before the start of the course.

  • Postman, Neil Postman, Andrew Amusing ourselves to death : public discourse in the age of show business

    20th anniversary ed.: New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 2006

    Find in the library