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Can a lie be ethical?

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Tom MacMaster fabricated the life and times of a troubled lesbian woman living in Syria. He pretended he was Amina Abdallah Arraf al-Omari, "A Gay Girl in Damascus" complete with misappropriated photos from an oblivious British woman. Amina's plight had tugged at the heart strings of the blogs readership. Amina had endured teargas at a rebel protest. She had witnessed a man shot dead before her. She had recently been kidnapped by Baath militia according to her cousin... who in reality was just another personality of old Tom's. Mainstream media had picked up on the story as insight into what is happening inside Syria as the dawn of the Arab Spring begins to break there. Once the fable had grown large enough it ensured its own demise when the real woman in the photos cried foul and the blogosphere teemed with both skeptics and faithful followers who sought and discovered the truth. There was no Amina. MacMaster had concocted everything because he wished to bring awareness to the wrongdoing in Syria.

Is this ethical? Is it okay to lie if you believe it to be for the greater good? What if the lie had cost an innocent person their life? Reckon how often this sort of thing happens?