On February 8, 2009, Chris Brown beat up pop megastar and then-girlfriend Rihanna. Five months later, Brown pleaded guilty to a felony assault and was sentenced to community labor, five years probation, and domestic violence counseling. Naturally, someone looking to make a buck off of the millions of ethics dunces who use social media recognized this as an appropriate basis for a game, and paid Snapchat to run their ad, which you can see above.
The “Would You Rather” ad was removed earlier this week, and Snapchat released an apology, saying “The advert was reviewed and approved in error, as it violates our advertising guidelines.” What does “in error” mean in such a case, though? It means “we have erroneously been hiring people at high levels with the ethical sensitivity of mollusks, and upon reflection, this was a miscalculation.” What deadness of soul and mind could ever ever explain someone, indeed a chain of employees, seeing an ad mocking domestic abuse and reacting by saying, “Great! Put it up and bill ’em!”
Advertising on Snapchat is purchased through a self-serve advertising platform and subject to review, the company says. Review by incompetents, creeps and fools, apparently. Unfortunately, they are far from unique.
Rihanna posted a rebuke to Snapchat on Instagram, writing in part,
“I’d love to call it ignorance but I know you ain’t that dumb. You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it.”
No, they made money by posting the joke, which is worse. Snapchat lost an estimated $800,000,000 in value as an immediate result of Rihanna’s post. Good. This promtped another desperate apology:
“This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service. We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process”
It obviously wasn’t “disgusting” enough to trigger the rudimentary ethics alarms of a lot of Snapchat employees. There is a larger and more threatening societal problem that this episode points to: we are giving more and more power over our culture to a narrowly-focused, tunnel-visioned, machine-obsessed and socially-retarded group of perpetual adolescents. The irresponsible conduct increasingly exhibited by Google, Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants is predictable, as is their abuse of the growing influence they have over our values and choices. Too many of these people lack an ethics chip, and we allow them to mold our minds and values at mortal peril.
18 thoughts on “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: Snapchat Approves A Domestic Abuse Game Ad”
Many don’t seem to connect acceptance of digital violence and its migration into real world violence. Someone should run a correlation between game rating enforcement, or lack thereof, and millennial / Gen Z violence.
There is significant evidence indicating these games do not alleviate violent urges, but exacerbate them.
As for Snapchat, they committed the usual generational sin of making something digitally “entertaining” before considering its real world consequences. This from the generations who care so much about social responsibility.
There is significant evidence indicating these games do not alleviate violent urges, but exacerbate them.
No, there absolutely is not. There is actually overwhelming evidence against this, but it should be sufficient to point out that violence in the real world has done down while video games have gotten more violent.
Sorry, but have a research partner in developmental psych, you are not correct. Young minds are having trouble distinguishing between digital and real. Many studies show acting out violence does not alleviate it.
But, speaking as a researcher who has studied violent video games for almost 15 years, I can state that there is no evidence to support these claims that violent media and real-world violence are connected. As far back as 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that research did not find a clear connection between violent video games and aggressive behavior. Criminologists who study mass shootings specifically refer to those sorts of connections as a “myth.” And in 2017, the Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association released a statement I helped craft, suggesting reporters and policymakers cease linking mass shootings to violent media, given the lack of evidence for a link.
Hard to sort through. When 21 billions of dollars are at stake, there is good reason to squabble over the facts (and the truth).
I think video game violence is still a young force in our society to measure adequately. I would think that for video game violence to start acculturating the young towards violence, they would need to be inundated by in and have few effective counter-acculturating forces in their lives teaching them that wanton and purposeless violence is bad.
I think then, that the first 20 years of video game violence can be explained away as having truly mitigating forces in the lives of those children in terms of other outlets for energy and other stronger influences like parents.
That leaves us really with only about 15 years of any generation that could be said to be inundated by truly graphic depictions of limitless violence…most of those age cohorts are still to young to see how they turn out as adults.
My gut says that you’d see actual correlations, if they exist, in about another decade.
But my gut tells me there that it still wouldn’t be the violence of the video games that is the problem, but rather the general disconnect from other humans in the greater community, and especially from parents that is wrought by too much inundation in ANY cheaply gained diversion, that permits the flourishing of the symptoms of deep social ills. That is to say, violence is merely ONE symptom of many symptoms of broken people…people whose brokenness is only exacerbated by increased separation from their fellow man. We just happen to notice violence and think it a singular issue.
This separation from fellow man is not an INHERENT result of access to video games or other cheap diversions as children, but rather the result of seemingly unhindered immersion in those cheap diversions as children. Less time spent…literally outside with other children…or side by side with parents…is the problem.
This should be a COTD.
I hope not. Thanks for the confidence though.
I typed stream of consciousness in a mad rush as I had finished work early for the last weekend of our kid’s spring break and chose not to go back and clean up that mess.
I’ll come back later this evening and clean that garbage up. I only hope you got my drift. There’s a few more points I wanted to add and then clean up the communication of my reasoning.
Ugh. I’m seething about the no less than 2 run on sentences.
This is worse than reading a 19th century English translation of Thucydides. The Greeks had no concept of punctuation like periods.
Video games have been out nationally for quite awhile. Even video games that have abstract versions of violence…like Mario Brothers or Donkey Kong…and I mean old school versions of those games like I used to play on Apple IIe. But for us to seriously contemplate capital V, capital G, capital V Video Game Violence as a force affecting the acculturation of our youths, we ought to fast forward in time specifically to “realistic” video game violence. An estimate that will be off plus or minus a few years, the *mid* 1990s is when our culture saw First Person Shooters enter the market, with early favorites like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D for desktop computers and ultimately entering the console market. In other words, Video Game Violence is still a young force in our society. This makes measuring its effects a bit problematic.
As we raise our young, they are acculturated through several INPUTS…all of which communicate to some level or another the values that the culture espouses OR worse, inadvertently communicates values the culture notionally DOES NOT espouse, but accidentally promote. In a manner of speaking, “we are what we eat”. My personal take up front is that YES, video game violence, as a subset of ALL informational inputs DOES affect each individual’s acculturation. The real questions are, “how much” and “are it’s effects mitigated by other inputs”?
I would think that for video game violence to start acculturating the young towards violence, they would need to be inundated by it and have few effective counter-acculturating forces in their lives teaching them that wanton and purposeless violence is bad. For the first 20 years of video game violence, my gut tells me we can explain explain away it’s effects as having been minimally unnoticable without deeply searching each individual or practically non-existant. Children of the early years of video games had plenty of other inputs in their lives as well as outlets for their minds at a vastly greater ratio than the violence int he games…first and foremost active and attentive parents.
That leaves us really with only about 15 years of any generation that could be said to be inundated by truly graphic depictions of limitless violence…most of those age cohorts are still to young to see how they turn out as adults. Again, my gut says that you’d see actual correlations, if they exist, in about another decade. And even then, I don’t think we’ll find a direct causal effect between video game violence and individuals acting on violent tendencies *except in marginal cases*.
We are inherently violent creatures. we use violence to achieve many ends…some good…some bad. Part of our acculturation process: that is our turning barbarians into citizens is the training of them to reserve violence as a tool of last resort for any problems in life. I think if we see a rise in violence in our culture, the problem isn’t *directly* attributable to cultural inputs that show violence in action. I think the problem would be attributable to all those inputs that teach children the when and where of appropriate violence.
I alluded above to the notion that “we are what we eat”…so I do, to a degree, believe that the games we play do, to some level or other contribute to our value sets AND the actions we deem appropriate in pursuing our value sets. But the effects of violent video games can ONLY be marginal in that respect…
For the vast majority of people. Because for most of us, we have plenty of other inputs that simultaneously teach us that *righteous* violence has a time and place, and that video game violence (though fun) is ONLY entertainment. Just like Hollywood violence. Just like violence in novels. Just like sex. Just like driving. Just like ALL OTHER MANNER of action we can engage in.
But, that isn’t to say that there isn’t some young boy (and especially boys) who doesn’t have a lot of “mitigating” cultural forces in their lives, who maybe, just maybe, among other Violence-Promoting activities they engage in, don’t find violent video games to be the tipping point…the “straw that broke the camels back” and that young boy, on the margins, where the marginal effects of video game violence are enough to lead to violent conduct.
Of course, in those cases, video game violence itself CANNOT be held responsible for the violent act itself…but rather a large quantity of negative inputs combined with a large deficit of positive. But, to be fair about this, we need then to abstract this discussion of violence into a larger subset of “anti-civic” behavior and attitudes. Anti-civic behavior which CAN be directly tied to NOT having positive influences in any individual’s life. I think the general disconnect from other humans in the greater community, primarily humans that provide positive acculturation (such as parents and other *responsible* adults) can contribute to this.
I think this is where you can fit Video Game Violence *into* a larger disconnect from other humans in the greater community. In which case, again, it isn’t the video games themselves *causing* violent tendencies as much as it is the isolation that cheap diversions modern culture provides that removes children from other positive influences. Parents…if your child is isolated from you because of this, then cut off video games to a rationed pittance of what they used to be and make them “play outside” with their friends or do something with you.
The reason, I think, you have to consider this problem in general terms as anti-civic behavior, is that my gut tells me that individuals react in many negative ways towars society at large because of less than ideal upbringing, and violence is a marginal fringe of greater anti-civic behavior that we just happen to notice. I think violence is merely one *symptom* of broken people…people whose brokenness is exacerbated by increased separation from their fellow man.
This separation from fellow man is not an INHERENT result of access to video games or other cheap diversions as children, but rather the result of seemingly unhindered immersion in those cheap diversions as children with insufficient COUNTERACTING influences. Less time spent…literally outside with other children…or side by side with parents…is the problem.
We’ll have to disagree. I consider my source to be reliable and have reviewed her research methods.
I note that the two of you are talking about two different things. You mention the effect of violent games and violent urges, Chris cites studies showing lack of correlation between violent games and violent actions.
Question is, when do the unmitigated urges translate to actions. I guess I worry it will and is starting to do so. Chris indicates current actions are not correlated.
The problem is that the same alarms have been sounded about a string of pop culture activities attracting young men and boys. Dime novels, comic books, jazz, violent sports, rock and roll, rap and hip-hop, violent TV shows and gangster movies, even Warner Bros. cartoons. None of these were borne out by research, and the activists who tried to censor them were retroactively ridiculed as reactionary hysterics. Why is this new delivery system for fantasy violence any different from its predecessors?
The new delivery systems are getting more realistic. There is a great difference in the realism of virtual reality compared to Wile E. Coyote being blown up with tnt when chasing the Roadrunner. Could not a more realistic media have an effect that a unrealistic cartoon would not have?
Sure. But there’s no convincing evidence at this point.
“I’d love to call it ignorance but I know you ain’t that dumb.”
Kissing cousin to the Nolnah Razor – this attributes to malice what it would be too stupid to attribute to ignorance.