20th Century Fox got caught creating fake news in order to promote their own movie, “A Cure for Wellness”. They have created websites such as The Salt Lake City Guardian and The Houston Leader, among others. Articles on these websites have been made with collaborators from fake news creators and their articles have been shared thousands of times across Facebook, and people believing that they are true.
On of the big articles posted is called “Trump Orders CDC to Remove All Vaccination Related Information from Website” and another one called “LEAKED: Lady Gaga Halftime Performance to Feature Muslim Tribute”. The last article was shared 65,000k times on Facebook and the majority of them believe it to be true. The author stated in the the New York Times that, “the articles were puzzling as a marketing tool, containing promotional hashtags like #cureforwellness or #takethecure and plot references, but adding substantial portions of verified information so as to look like real news.”
Robert C. Solomon would agree that this is unethical because they are lying. He believes that there is never a right to lie. He states, “The one thing that a person cannot do is to think that telling a lie- any lie- is just as good or right as telling the truth, and so needs no special justification for doing so” (Martin, 163). He believes that overall lying is wrong and there is not excuse to ever do it, but the degree of lie that you tell is on a spectrum. Some lies are worse than others.
He states specifically that, “looking only at short-term and immediate benefits, that the harm done by some lies is considerably less than the harm that would be done by telling the ‘unvarnished truth,'” (Martin, 164). This is relatable to 20th Century Fox because their gain from their lies were to only intended for short-term awareness of the movie that had just released.
He ends his argument about short-term lies with, “the cost of a cover-up is often many times more than the damage done by the lie itself, even if the cover-up is successful” (Martin, 164). The reputation that was damaged by 20th Century Fox from these fake websites will last longer than the success of the “A Cure for Wellness”. Lying to the public and using the media to their advantage resulted in unethical business decisions and a loss of company reputation.
Martin, C. W., Vaught, W., & Solomon, R. C. (2017). Ethics across the professions: a reader for professional ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.