The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy

Nowadays, ethics is one of the major concerns regarding social media. Many people are subject of abuses, as racism and sexism are easily scattered by users that hide behind their digital anonymity (The Guardian, 2017) and even by public profiles as described in Topic 3, using the case of Justine Sacco. Furthermore, privacy is another big issue and strong reasons are expanded in this video. But what is the context on social media where all these ethics controversies have their own place? The phenomenon is called ‘sharing economy’.

With the development of social media and e-commerce, a new kind of collaborative consumption has emerged and it was labelled as ‘sharing economy’. The two big questions about it are addressed in the adjacent infographic.

 

 

Thereby, this collaborative consumption can be easily described in one sentence…

A lot of people have probably used it already, without being aware they became part of the sharing economy. Uber and AirBnb are the success stories of the peer economy as they offered the best answer to the needs of society. Thereby, they built massive companies around the online social space and this led to reaching multi-billion valuation. However how can a person use the social economy to earn money?

Unfortunately, as not everything that glitters is gold, sharing economy developed along with some ethics concerns. One of these is related to security. Both consumers and providers need to be protected, but as discussed in the previous topics, anything can hide behind an online profile.

From the safety point of view, trust currently sustains the sharing economy. Trust that the services that you use are safe and legal (Katz, 2015). Thereby, precaution becomes a priority.

After all, the major problem about sharing economy is represented by the impossibility of Governments to create a suitable legal environment for it. As shown in this European Commission report (2015), the sharing economy has certain big ethical issues, illustrated below.

Unfortunately, these ethical issues didn’t pass unobserved and they were often severely punished in multiple locations. At the beginning of 2016, the introduction of Uber in France was considered a passive genocide of taxis (Slater-Robins and Tasch, 2016). Thereby, Paris was shut down by massive violent protests organised by taxi drivers.

It’s obvious that peer to peer communities that share space, goods or labour services in the online social space can be foundation of a new household model, less dependent on employers and more able to diversify access to income, goods and services. However, it comes with a price that makes us question: Are we going to risk our security to take part in the sharing economy?

435 words

References:

AlterConf, (2016) YouTube: AlterConf Paris 2016 – Accessibility vs. Ethics in the Sharing Economy by Heather Davidson. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVuEE6satmo&feature=youtu.be&t=4m16s [Accessed 26 March 2017].

European Comission, (2015) Briefing – The sharing economy and tourism. Available from: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2015/568345/EPRS_BRI(2015)568345_EN.pdf [Accessed 24 March 2017].

Jericho, G. (2017) the Guardian: The dark side of Uber: why the sharing economy needs tougher rules | Greg Jericho. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2016/apr/18/uber-airbnb-sharing-economy-tougher-rules-australia [Accessed 24 March 2017].

Katz, V. (2015) Regulating the Sharing Economy. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 30 (4).

Malhotra, A. and Van Alstyne, M. (2014) The dark side of the sharing economy … and how to lighten it. Communications of the ACM, 57 (11), 24-27.

Parker, T. (2014) Investopedia: Make Money Fast From The New ‘Sharing Economy’. Available from: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/053014/make-money-fast-new-sharing-economy.asp [Accessed 25 March 2017].

Reinvent, (2016) YouTube: An Animated Overview of the Sharing Economy. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy7MH9TyZck [Accessed 26 March 2017].

Slater-Robins, M. and Tasch, B. (2016) Business Insider: French taxi drivers shut down Paris as protests over Uber turn violent. Available from: http://uk.businessinsider.com/uber-protests-in-paris-2016-1 [Accessed 25 March 2017].

The Guardian, (2017) The Guardian: Twitter abuse: easy on the messenger. Available from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/24/twitter-abuse-abusive-tweets-editorial?CMP=twt_gu [Accessed 24 March 2017].

Featured image source

 

5 thoughts on “The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy

  1. Hi Andrei
    Enjoyed reading your post this week, as the sharing economy isn’t something that I would have thought about writing about! As you have mentioned in your post there are many downsides to the use of the sharing economy, and being a part of one, especially for those who are employed by those companies. However despite these downsides there are still many people either providing or using these services without a second thought for how it could be damaging to personal security, due to the ease of using apps such as Uber.
    In our current consumer culture do you think it is possible to create a more positive outlook for these services? Or do you believe that they are destined to carry on as they are currently, especially as although there have been protests, still nothing seems to have changed?
    Thanks
    Rebecca
    Word Count: 143

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you for appreciating my article and I am glad that you enjoyed it! You asked a really good question, which is probably one of the big ones regarding the sharing economy. I consider that if the authorities had the capacity to create a more favourable environment for the development of these services, they would have done it already. Unfortunately, the existing companies whose clients are taken by people earning money through sharing economy, want companies like Uber and AirBnb out, as they see them one of the main threats in front of their existence.

    On the other hand, as the Governments are under the pressure of protests organised by traditional companies, it is good that the main players from the sharing economy play tough and so do the people that are employed through these services. You can see an example by reading this article.

    All in all, I am not that confident that we will see a change in the years to come.

    Kind regards,
    Andrei

    Like

  3. Hi
    Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment. I think you definitely raise a good point in that if the government really wanted or were able to do something about the issues surrounding the sharing economy they probably already would have done so, however reading that article about the French government encouraging Uber to talk to taxi drivers certainly is a step in the right direction, and we can only hope that other will follow suit in the future!
    Rebecca

    Liked by 1 person

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