Submerging yourself in the daily churn of the internet provides plenty of ethical quandaries, but the past month has put the ethics of web browsing — and, more precisely, the ethics of avoiding certain things — into unusually stark relief. Because increasingly, the ethical dilemmas of the internet era turn not on whether to share, comment on, or disseminate something, but whether to look at it at all.
Two American journalists were beheaded by ISIS, and videos of those horrific killings were disseminated across the internet. Should you watch them? The answer was pretty clear: Because the gruesome videos were made to terrorize ISIS’s enemies, the best way to thwart them was by refusing to watch the footage.