Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Perverse Ethical Concerns: Online Platforms and Offline Conflicts

Chang, Dongkyu and Vong, Allen (2021): Perverse Ethical Concerns: Online Platforms and Offline Conflicts.

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We study a model where many citizens learn a hidden state individually on an online platform. The platform slants news and imperfectly filters misinformation, triggering conflicts about the state among the citizens. We show that a platform that faces an ethical concern to internalize conflict costs could perversely aggravate conflicts. This cautionary observation highlights that societal efforts to mitigate conflicts, such as investments in ethical algorithms, public awareness campaigns, and government policies, are effective if and only if their implementations are sufficiently aggressive.

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