And with work, whether online or off, it’s always important to consider exploitation – are those profiting from the work giving adequate credit to those doing the work, or is the online world a realm for exploitation?
Speaking from personal experience, I can attest to how – at least one – type of online business works. Currently, I am an intern for a company called delivery.com. Essentially what the company does, is (assuming you live in New York, San Francisco, or any other major metropolitan area) gather menus from different restaurants and publishes them on their website. So let’s say you wanted to order pizza and lived in Manhattan. You could go onto the web site, view different menus from pizza places around the area, and order online or call delivery.com themselves. Delivery.com would get a portion of the amount you paid for the pizza delivery. That is but one example of how businesses work online. Of course, there are seemingly infinite different types of businesses that operate online. Some websites profit from directly selling a product, such as Amazon.com. Other websites profit from allowing users to use their content. For example, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Netflix, and Hulu all utilize this business model. Of course, there are websites that profit from illegal operations. The most notorious example is Silk Road. Silk Road was an illegal website that had to be accessed through a special browser (called Tor) to prevent government agencies from tracking the users. On Silk Road, one could purchase prostitutes, drugs, and other illegal materials. They would have to pay for these services/materials by using a peer-to-peer payment system, specifically Bitcoins, a type of online currency.
With any business, there is the possibility for exploitation. This is not a trait that solely belongs to online business. I do, however, believe that it is exponentially easier to exploit people or take credit for someone else’s work online. It is incredibly easy to take credit for someone else’s work. For example, suppose someone posted a picture of a painting they made on Reddit. I could save the picture of the painting to my computer, and then post it elsewhere, claiming it was mine. Chances are, if nobody recognizes it, I could get away with it. People are much more likely to be exploited online due to the Internet’s anonymous nature. If someone takes credit for your work, it seems almost impossible to track them down to demand recognition or sue them for royalties.