Tag Archives: Facebook

Ethics Strike Three And Four Against Facebook In Its Creepy Mood Manipulation Study

Facebook is so out.

"Meh. Look at this neat picture of my dog!"

“Meh. Look at this neat picture of my dog!”

Ethics Strike One was the research itself, using its own, trusting users as guinea pigs in a mad scientist experiment to determine whether their moods could be manipulated by secretly managing the kind of posts they read from Facebook friends.

Ethics Strike Two was the lack of its subjects informed consent for the study, violating the basic standards of human subject research. A boilerplate user agreement that makes a vague reference to using data for “research” in no way meets the requirements of informed consent for this kind of study.

This brings us to Ethics Strike Three.  In justifying the legality and ethics of the research, Facebook’s researchers explained that leave to perform such experiments was consistent with the user agreement (See Strike Two):  “[the experiment] was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.” As I pointed out above and in my previous post on this topic, this isn’t informed consent as the research field and various ethics codes define it. But even if it was, this statement is a lie. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet

Obnoxious, Offensive, And Unethical: Facebook “Research” Turning Users Into Guinea Pigs

guinea-pig

Facebook apparently has been manipulating the feeds that some users get to see in order to measure how it the content affects the tone of their own posts.

You can read about the research here; I’m not publicizing it, because the Facebook’s research is an abuse of users and their trust. I don’t mind them reading my posts, for they own the service, and the service is in their name. I assume they will use my data and content to make money, but I didn’t agree to allow them to manipulate me, or what I write, feel, or think. I’m also not especially optimistic about the uses the results of such research might be applied to.

The researchers claim that the research is ethical because a computer program scanned for words that were considered either “positive” or “negative,” but the Facebook content wasn’t actually read. Facebook  terms of service state that user data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

Since Facebook users agree to the terms of service, the researchers argue that this constitutes “informed consent” for their experiment.

Wrong.

Also ridiculous.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Professions, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, U.S. Society

Scott Esk, The Tea Party, And Leon Festinger’s Warning

Ignore Leon at your peril, Republicans!

Ignore Leon at your peril, Republicans!

A Texas Republican, using my least favorite rationalization (#22. Comparative Virtue, or “It’s not the worst thing”)  to excuse the party’s intentionally insulting anti-gay platform, could argue, “Hey! At least we don’t want gays to be stoned to death!”

True. That would be the position of Tea Party candidate for the Oklahoma state Senate, Scott Esk.

In a Facebook exchange last year, Esk indeed endorsed, without espousing, killing gays:

“That [stoning gay people to death] goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss…I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Contacted by Oklahoma magazine to clarify his remarks, Esk did indeed, saying:

 “That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God and in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God. I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins…I know what was done in the Old Testament and what was done back then was what’s just. … And I do stand for Biblical morality.”

Before going further, I have to give Esk integrity points for not claiming that he was taken out of context or misunderstood. He was honest, he accepted responsibility for his words, and he didn’t try to “walk back” his statement, as is the current fashion among all the Washington politicians we should not trust. His courage and candor are admirable.

If only he weren’t a hateful, ignorant fool. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Marketing and Advertising, Religion and Philosophy, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: The Republican Un-Tweeters

"Ha! They'll NEVER find it now!"

“Ha! They’ll NEVER find it now!”

Several Republican politicians leapt on the “Welcome Home Bowe!” bandwagon without bothering to a) learn the details and more importantly to them, sadly, b) gauge the reaction of their constituents, contributers and supporters.  Thus they tweeted praise for his release, perhaps echoing Obama’s designated liar Susan Rice’s unsupported assertion that he has served with honor, or evoking the Administration’s now discarded spin that he was a hero. When the transaction was revealed to be an utter botch by the Obama Administration (but I repeat myself), and the GOP officials realized that it would be partisan feeding time in the  shark tank, these brave public servants had neither the forthrightness to admit their errors, if errors they were, nor the courage to face the consequences.

Nor, unfortunately for them, the technological savvy to realize that trying to cover up what you put on the internet doesn’t work.

And makes you look like an untrustworthy sneak.

The Sunlight Foundation has a service called “Politwoops,” which collects elected officials’ tweets and makes them available if they are deleted in an effort to remove feet from mouths. It uncovered this, from Republican Senator Thad Cochran…

 

Bergdahl tweet2

and this, from GOP Congressman Jim Renacci… Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, The Internet, War and the Military

Ethics Quiz: The Sensitive Cop’s Facebook Confession

sensitive cop“If there was any time I despised wearing a police uniform, it was yesterday at the Capitol during the water rally. A girl I know who frequents the Capitol for environmental concerns looked at me and wanted me to participate with her in the event. I told her I have to remain unbiased while on duty at these events. She responded by saying, ‘You’re a person, aren’t you?’ That comment went straight through my heart!”

Thus did Douglas Day, a police officer at the West Virginia Capitol in Charleston, confess to Facebook friends his mixed emotions while doing his duty.

For this he was fired.

The day Day wrote his Facebook post, Capitol Police Lt. T.M. Johnson told him  that the post “shows no respect to the department, the uniform or the law enforcement community which he represents.”  About a week later, Sgt. A.E. Lanham Jr. wrote to Day that he “found the entire [Facebook] posting to be extremely offensive and shocking … This is just another episode of many incidents which show his bad attitude and lack of enthusiasm toward police work in general and toward our department in particular.”

Day was thunderstruck. “If they believed there was some sort of a violation I made, then why wasn’t it addressed? They never brought me in and never said anything to me,” Day said. “In 2½ years working there, I had no disciplinary action taken against me at any time. Nothing was ever written up and I received no reprimands.” So much for the “many incidents.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Quizzes, Rights, The Internet

Bergen Community College Shows Us Why Justin Carter Is Being Persecuted

Can't have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Can’t have this. Terrifying. Dangerous.

Remember Justin Carter? Last I checked, he was being tried for making a joke on Facebook, because of the culture of fear and speech monitoring created by the irresponsible hysteria over guns and terrorism.  He faces prison time. That this is a freedom-suffocating societal illness that threatens any and all of us is chronicled in Ken White account, and accompanying commentary, on the astonishing mistreatment of Bergen Community College Professor Francis Schmidt by the school, which was sent into a frenzy of terror because he posted to Google+ “a cute picture of his young daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt in a yoga pose next to a cat.”  Inside Higher Ed reports what happened next: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Education, Popular Culture, The Internet, Workplace

Ethics Dunces: Paula Deen and “Uncle Bubba”

uncle-bubba-s-oyster

Like breaking up via text message and telling your spouse you want a divorce in an e-mail, here’s a crummy use of technology that we should hope doesn’t catch on.

Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oyster House, a restaurant owned by Paula Deen and her younger brother, Earl W. “Bubba” Hiers Jr., told all of its employees that the place was going out of business on its Facebook page, and that was all. The message:

“Since its opening in 2004, Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House has been a destination for residents and tourists in Savannah, offering the region’s freshest seafood and oysters. However, the restaurant’s owner and operator, Bubba Heirs, has made the decision to close the restaurant in order to explore development options for the waterfront property on which the restaurant is located. At this point, no specific plans have been announced and a range of uses are under consideration in order realize the highest and best use for the property.The closing is effective today, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Employees will be provided with severance based on position and tenure with the restaurant. All effort will be made to find employees comparable employment with other Savannah restaurant organizations.”

Yechh.

Cruel, rude, impersonal, cowardly. Also callous, lazy and inefficient: how many employees were told by third parties about the announcement?

Well, at least Paula’s not a racist. I wonder if the Food Network fired Paula via Facebook? I’m pretty sure it didn’t.

_____________________

Pointer: Evil HR Lady

Facts: CBS

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, The Internet, Workplace

Unethical Website of the Month: “I Love Dogs”

This isn't the puppy in the post, but I've been looking for an excuse use this photo...

This isn’t the puppy in the post, but I’ve been looking for an excuse use this photo…

I love dogs too, but encouraging people to beat alleged animal abusers to the verge of death just doesn’t seem right to me. I’m funny that way.

Indeed, I wonder about the values and mental stability of those who think this is a rational and ethical response to the perpetrator of any kind of crime, not just animal abuse.

“I Love Dogs” has sent into the web a virtual “Wanted Poster” with a photo of a real human being, ostensibly a canine abuser who “nearly beat this pup”—also pictured—“to death.” The poster suggests that readers should share the poster if they “believe that he deserves the same.”

Sure enough, many do. The post has gleaned many thousands of likes, about 5000 shares, and a wave of comments like those that follow here. I’ve included the names of the posters, who obviously didn’t think their comments were anything to be ashamed of. I wish I could include the thousands more like them, but there is too much anonymity in crowds. Posting the commenters’ names that appear below is a public service. I suggest avoiding them. Also proofreading their work, as they all appear to have dropped out of the third grade…

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Maricopa, Arizona Vice-Mayor Ed Farrell

The OnionWhat conduct definitively labels an elected official as incompetent, you ask? Well, opinions may differ, but I think we can all agree the publicly exposing yourself as uninformed, ignorant, and devoid of reading comprehension qualifies.

Meet Maricopa, Arizona Vice-Mayor Ed Farrell (D), who saluted the passing of anti-gay, military funeral-disrupting Fred Phelps, who tookleave of this homosexual-blighted world recently, by writing this on his Facebook page:

“We need more Fred Phelps in this world. May you rest in peace sir….This world needs to get back to the biblical standards that our God made for us. This guy was not afraid to preach it, and I respect that.”

To prove his point, Farrell linked to a satirical obituary in The Onion, believing it to be genuine. He believed this despite clues like the following:

“What Fred Phelps accomplished over the past 30 years—from a federal constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, to nationwide laws allowing businesses to turn away gay customers—makes him easily one of the most successful and monumental figures of the past century,” said biographer Michael Ammons, noting that depictions of gays and lesbians began to disappear from popular culture and the media as soon as Phelps began taking his powerful rallies against homosexuality from state to state. “Fred Phelps devoted his life to one goal, and he triumphed. This was an incredibly influential man who deserved all the attention he received. Think of the legacy he leaves behind: In the past three decades, homosexuality has become practically nonexistent in society.”

Wishful thinking, perhaps, on Farrell’s part?

Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Incompetent Elected Officials

Privacy, Facebook, And School Abuse of Power

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

It can a bit late to the party, in my view, but the ACLU just delivered a crucial blow to Big Brotherism in the schools. Addressing an issue that Ethics Alarms flagged in 2011, Minnewaska Area Schools (in Minnesota) agreed to pay $70,000 in damages to

for violating her rights. It also agreed, as part of the federal court settlement, to rewrite its policies to limit how far a school can intrude on the privacy of students by examining e-mails and social media accounts created off school grounds.

In 2012, the ACLU Minnesota Chapter filed a lawsuit against the Minnewaska School District after it suspended Stratton for a Facebook post, written and published outside of school, in her home, in which she expressed hatred for a school hall monitor who she said was “mean.”  After the suspension, Stratton used Facebook to inquire which of her “friends” had blown a whistle on her. School officials brought the young teen into a room with a local sheriff and forced her to surrender her Facebook password. Officials used it to searched her page on the spot; her parents were not consulted.

“A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it’s easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus,” Minnesota ACLU attorney Wallace Hilke said. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators. She wasn’t spreading lies or inciting them to engage in bad behavior, she was just expressing her personal feelings.”

Not that it was any of the school’s business if she was spreading lies or inciting others to bad behavior. This phenomenon, where schools decide that they have a right to punish students for non-school activity, words and thoughts  was discussed on Ethics Alarms, and condemned as unethical, here, here, here, and here, and more recently here.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt protested (the school settled without admitting any wrongdoing) that the school only wants to make sure kids understand that actions outside of school can be “detrimental.” “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little,” Schmidt said. Not your job, you officious, censorious, child abuser. This is the sole realm of parental authority. I have seen enough wretched judgement from your breed, Mr. Schmidt—like (I’m picking examples randomly) here, here, here, here and here—to convince me and anyone with a cerebral cortex that school administrators lack the training, wisdom and judgment to know what “going of track a little” is for a 13-year old.

Stay out of my kids’ life and my family’s life. You have enough trouble running schools properly…work on that.

________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, ACLU, Minnesota Star Tribune

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Filed under Education, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, The Internet