Constandious Takura Munakandafa, member of the Social and Ethics Committee and Agile Systems Analyst considers the ethical implications of the escalating rivalry between the world’s most famous Tech Billionaires.

While the proposed cage fight between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg did not happen, their rivalry is as fierce as ever. The proposed fight was a culmination of events that dominated global IT companies X and Meta in recent months, but it is important to have some background context.

Twitter was founded in March 2006 and recently rebranded to X following acquisition by Elon. Meta, the mother company to Facebook and Instagram that is owned by Mark, launched the Threads app off its Instagram platform in July 2023 as a competitor to Twitter.

According to some media reports, the rivalry is not showing any signs of slowing down as reported on Meta to soon launch web version of Threads in race with X for users | Reuters. Billions are being spent in more product offerings in order to gain market share from users that are now spoilt for choice. There is an African proverb that says when elephants fight; it is the grass that suffers. As IT professionals who are at the forefront of developing and implementing these applications, we have to question if this is healthy competition that will add value to the consumers in line with appropriate laws and regulations.

Section 3 of the IITPSA Code of Ethics provides professional leadership principles by defining a leader as ‘any member of an organisation or group who has influence, educational responsibilities, or managerial responsibilities.’ Seven principles have been listed as responsibilities that computing professionals especially ones acting as leaders are expected to uphold. Most relevant to this article is the sub-section 3.7 that explains how to ‘Recognize and take special care of systems that become integrated into the infrastructure of society’ since the IT systems under their stewardship ‘have the potential to impact all aspects of society when integrated with everyday activities such as commerce, travel, government, healthcare, and education’.

As IT professionals we are expected to uphold, promote and respect the principles of the Code, as stipulated in section 4.1. And that entails putting our focus on ‘technical and ethical excellence’ instead of personal egos or profits that aim to achieve dominance over the needs of customers and their rights.