Tag Archives: autonomy

Facebook’s “Ugly Memo” Is Completely Ethical.

Facebook employees were horrified last week by over a leaked 2016 memo from  Facebook VP Andrew “Boz” Bosworth defending the social network’s aggressive expansion plans. Naturally, since the news media is in a Hate Facebook mode, ever since it was discovered that the social networking giants didn’t just let Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton acquire personal, data from its users: Republicans got some of the “big data” too, the Bosworth memo, nicknamed “The Ugly,” was more fodder to declare Mark Zuckerberg’s baby evil.

It may be evil, but not on the basis of the memo. Here’s what Bosworth wrote:

The Ugly

We talk about the good and the bad of our work often. I want to talk about the ugly.

We connect people.

That can be good if they make it positive. Maybe someone finds love. Maybe it even saves the life of someone on the brink of suicide.

So we connect more people

That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.

And still we connect people.

The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good. It is perhaps the only area where the metrics do tell the true story as far as we are concerned. That isn’t something we are doing for ourselves. Or for our stock price (ha!). It is literally just what we do. We connect people. Period.

That’s why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it.

The natural state of the world is not connected. It is not unified. It is fragmented by borders, languages, and increasingly by different products. The best products don’t win. The ones everyone use win.

I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this. Most of us have the luxury of working in the warm glow of building products consumers love. But make no mistake, growth tactics are how we got here. If you joined the company because it is doing great work, that’s why we get to do that great work. We do have great products but we still wouldn’t be half our size without pushing the envelope on growth. Nothing makes Facebook as valuable as having your friends on it, and no product decisions have gotten as many friends on as the ones made in growth. Not photo tagging. Not news feed. Not messenger. Nothing.

In almost all of our work, we have to answer hard questions about what we believe. We have to justify the metrics and make sure they aren’t losing out on a bigger picture. But connecting people. That’s our imperative. Because that’s what we do. We connect people.

Anyone who thinks this is a horrible or unethical sentiment doesn’t understand the fallacy of consequentialism, doesn’t comprehend moral luck, and doesn’t understand ethics or the concept of liberty. The section in the memo that has the Left’s new moralists suffering from the vapours is this one:

“So we connect more people. That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools.”

That’s not “ugly.” That is a statement of reality, though admittedly one that certain political groups can’t understand, or choose not to accept. The value of tools that expand human power and experience is not diminished because they can be, and predictably will be, misused by some people, sometimes tragically. The nation was built on a basic understanding and embrace of that concept. Recently, a powerful movement has arisen challenging the assertion that personal; liberty is a universal good, on the grounds that liberty can be abused..  Here are some of the parallel and equivalent statements that this group currently challenges, often in  angry and demonizing terms: Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Facebook, Government & Politics, Rights, Science & Technology, Social Media, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point”

Second Amendment authority Chipper Jones. He’s an expert because he had a .303 lifetime batting average, and shoots deer….

It was gratifying that the weekend post about the “weapons of war” anti-gun rhetoric attracted a  great deal of thoughtful commentary here. I was thinking about the post again today when, as is increasingly the case, a sportswriter gratuitously injected politics into sports commentary. Baseball season is fast-approaching, and while one of the many reasons I follow the game so passionately is its ethics content, I look forward to the game to get away from politics, and incorrigible social justice warrior agitators like NBC’s Craig Calcaterra, lapsed lawyer, can’t resist misusing their sports platforms as a political soap box. 

Today he gleefully informed readers that Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones had “denounced assault weapons,” telling Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves,” Jones said. “But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.

“I would like to see something (new legislation) happen. I liken it to drugs – you’re not going to get rid of all the guns. But AR-15s and AK-47s and all this kind of stuff – they belong in the hands of soldiers. Those belong in the hands of people who know how to operate them, and whose lives depend on them operating them. Not with civilians. I have no problem with hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols and what-not. But I’m totally against civilians having those kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.”

Calcaterra makes sure that we knew that the ex-Braves player is an avid hunter and owns a rife, because he apparently wants us to think that owning a gun makes an athlete an expert on the Bill of Rights. (It doesn’t, and I’m pretty sure Calcaterra knows that.)

Concludes Craig,

“While debate, often acrimonious, will no doubt continue about these matters indefinitely, it’s striking to see someone like Chipper Jones come out so strongly on the matter in the particular way that he has. It has to make people at the NRA and those who support it wonder if, when you’ve lost Chipper Jones, you’ve gone too far.”

Thus we have a lawyer appealing to the authority of a man who played baseball all through highs school, and signed a contract to be a pro baseball player at te age of 18. Call me skeptical, but I question whether he has devoted much research to the history and philosophy underlying the Second Amendment, or has read any of the judicial opinion and scholarship analyzing it. I especially question Jones’ flippant “denouncement”  given the tell-tale signs that he doesn’t understand the right to bear arms at all, beginning with the misnomer “assault rifles” and the assumption that the most popular civilian rifle in the U.S. is a “weapon of war.” He also makes the offensive assumption that he is qualified to decide what kind of fire arms other citizens “need,” a commonly expressed  attitude sharply discredited in this essay by playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.

I find myself increasingly impatient with uninformed opinions on important matters relating to our personal liberty, expressed by celebrities with no more understanding or special expertise than the typical semi-informed citizen, and often less. I am even less tolerant when I am told by journalists that attention must be paid.

Here is the Comment of the Day by Glenn Logan, who is informed on this issue, on the post On The Anti-Gun “Weapons Of War” Talking Point: Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/27/2018: “If You Want It, Here’s How To Get It” Edition

Good Morning (and I hope you all feel better than I do).

1 Tide Pod Update: If you want more libertarians, here’s how to get them.  At the Fortune site, Harold I. Ziegler writes,

Recently, videos have circulated on social media showing teens deliberately eating Tide Pods laundry detergent packs. All of this is part of what some call the “Tide Pod Challenge.” These pods contain highly concentrated laundry detergent under pressure and explode when bitten into, releasing their toxic contents and causing rapid ingestion and inhalation of dangerous chemicals. In my capacity as a toxic chemical researcher and consultant, I have investigated and seen several instances of the horrendous consequences that result from laundry pack ingestion: permanent burning of the mouth, throat, digestive tract, and lung tissue, and in some cases even death.Procter & Gamble (P&G), the manufacturer of Tide Pods, as well as other companies selling laundry detergent packs, have acted in the past to stem the misuse of their products. But these safety measures have failed.

It’s clear that laundry pods as they currently exist are too dangerous to be sold to the public. If P&G and other manufacturers can’t figure out a way to reduce the more than 10,000 injuries they cause each year, laundry packs need to be taken off the market.

If there is a better example of the thought processes that create nanny states and push society to eliminate personal responsibility, accountability and autonomy from its values, I can’t think of it. If people persist in the “Hit Yourself In The Head With a Hammer Challenge,” ban hammers.  How do intelligent, educated people end up thinking like this? More amazing still is that a consultant can put out an addled argument like this one for public consumption—Wait! Harold’s opinions make people stupid, and we can’t seem to stop people from reading them! Using Harold’s logic, we better ban freedom of expression! Or Harold!—and still be able to persuade clients to pay for his advice.

2. But if it’s more white nationalism you want, here’s how you get THAT…San Francisco Acting Mayor London Breed, an African-American, was voted out at by her colleagues Board of Supervisors in favor of Mark Farrell, who is white. The Horror.  will replace her as interim mayor until voters select a new mayor in June. As soon as it became apparent that the first African-American woman to lead San Francisco, albeit only because the elected mayor died suddenly, was being replaced by a white male, black citizens in the room erupted with rage, with many leaving in protest, and others shouting, “Shame, shame, shame.” “This is war!” some shouted as the meeting ended.

Nice.

In related news, the Congressional Black Caucus announced that it will boycott the State of the Union speech. Continue reading

24 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Alarms Encore: “The Inconvenient Truth About The Second Amendment and Freedom: The Deaths Are Worth It”

[ I wrote this piece in 2012, in response to the reaction at the time from the Second Amendment-hating Left to the shocking murder-suicide of of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher. Jason Whitlock, then a thoughtful sports columnist iin KC, wrote a much linked and publicized column calling for private ownership of guns to be banned. I was going to update my post, but decided to just put it up again. Some of it is obviously dated (the reference to juvenile Carl in “The Walking Dead,” for example), but I have re-read it, and would not change a word of its substance.]

The shocking murder-suicide of of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher has once again unleashed the predictable rants against America’s “culture of guns” and renewed calls for tougher firearms laws. Yes, reasonable restrictions on firearms sales make sense, and the ready availability of guns to the unhinged, criminal and crazy in so many communities is indefensible. Nevertheless, the cries for the banning of hand-guns that follow these periodic and inevitable tragedies are essentially attacks on core national values, and they need to be recognized as such, because the day America decides that its citizens should not have access to guns will also be the day that its core liberties will be in serious peril.

Here is Kansas City sportswriter Jason Whitlock, in the wake of Belcher’s demise:

“Our current gun culture ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it… If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”

I don’t disagree with a single word of this. Yet everything Whitlock writes about guns can be also said about individual freedom itself. The importance of the U.S. “gun culture” is that it is really individual freedom culture, the conviction, rooted in the nation’s founding, traditions, history and values, that each citizen can and should have the freedom, ability and power to protect himself and his family, to solve his or her problems, and to determine his or her fate, without requiring the permission, leave or assistance of the government. Guns are among the most powerful symbols of that freedom. You can object to it, fight it or hate it, but you cannot deny it. Guns are symbols of individual initiative, self-sufficiency and independence, and a culture that values those things will also value guns, and access to guns.

Whitlock’s statement argues for building a counter-America in which safety, security and risk aversion is valued more than individual freedom. There is no doubt in my mind, and the results of the last election confirm this, that public support for such a counter-America is growing. The government, this segment believes, should be the resource for safety, health, financial well-being, food and shelter. It follows that the government alone should have access to firearms. This requires that we have great trust in central government, a trust that the Founders of the nation clearly did not have, but one that a lot of Americans seem ready to embrace. Giving up the right to own guns and entrusting government, through the police and the military, with the sole power to carry firearms represents a symbolic, core abandonment of the nation’s traditional commitment to personal liberty as more essential than security and safety. I would like to see the advocates of banning firearms admit this, to themselves as well as gun advocates, so the debate over firearms can be transparent and honest. Maybe, as a culture, we are now willing to make that choice. If so, we should make it with our eyes open. Continue reading

47 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/2/17

Gooooood morning!

(I don’t know about you, but it’s always a good morning for me when the Boston Red Sox win the most exciting game of the baseball season so far with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth after what should have been the last out reached first because  a swinging strike three went through the catcher for a passed ball….)

1. Yesterday, the gang at HLN were laughing and guffawing over the fact that someone sent e-mails purporting to be from Anthony Scaramucci to various White House officials and fooled the recipients into responding. Such publicity is what hoaxers dream about. This is why we have despicable fake news sites like “The News Nerd” and others. This is why Facebook feels it needs a special task force to search out and destroy false representations. CNN and other news media also treated the e-mails as significant news—more newsworthy, for example, than the Pakistani crooks the Democratic party had handling sensitive e-mails and other data. Why is this news, other than the fact that the “bad guys” were fooled, in the warped perspective of “resistance” journalists? More to the point, why is it funny? Why is the news media encouraging hoaxes by rewarding them with the notoriety they crave, so they can puff up their little pigeon chests and say, “See? I matter!”

The reports attempted to bootstrap the story by explaining that fake e-mails are how cyber-predators can get access to e-mail accounts. Those phishing episodes, however, involve the credulous recipients clicking on links in the message, which did not occur here. That’s what Hillary Clinton and John Podesta did. I don’t recall HLN chortling about that, however.

2. I’m still waiting for the news media’s apology to Sarah Palin. The news from UK socialized medicine today:

“Obese people will be routinely refused operations across the NHS, health service bosses have warned, after one authority said it would limit procedures on an unprecedented scale.Hospital leaders in North Yorkshire said that patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above – as well as smokers – will be barred from most surgery for up to a year amid increasingly desperate measures to plug a funding black hole. The restrictions will apply to standard hip and knee operations. The decision, described by the Royal College of Surgeons as the “most severe the modern NHS has ever seen”, led to warnings that other trusts will soon be forced to follow suit and rationing will become the norm if the current funding crisis continues.”

Continue reading

156 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

The D.C. Court Of Appeals Handgun Decision [UPDATED]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week that it is unconstitutional for the District government to restrict handgun licenses only to citizens who can prove a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” D.C. now must follow a standard system approved by the Supreme Court as not unduly burdensome to Second Amendment rights: issuing permits to adults who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class.

You can read the whole opinion here.  Two cases were under scrutiny: Wrenn v. District of Columbia and Matthew Grace and Pink Pistols v. District of Columbia.  Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote the opinion and was joined by Senior Judge Stephen F. Williams. Judge Karen LeCraft. Judge Karen Henderson, a Republican appointee, dissented.

This is a liberal court, but it properly upheld the Second Amendment while slapping down anti-gun talking points that I have always found obnoxious and totalitarian in spirit. “Why does anyone need a gun? Why do they need a semi-automatic weapon? Why do they need so much ammunition? I don’t need a gun. Guns are dangerous. If I don’t need one, you don’t need one.”

The government doesn’t have the right to tell me what I need. Strangers don’t get to tell me that my needs are unreasonable based on their beliefs and biases. In 2013, playwright and screenwriter David Mamet wrote an op-ed for Newsweek nicely articulating these principles. (If it is still available in its entirety, I lack the cleverness to find it. [UPDATE: Reader Frank Stephens was clever enough, and the link is here]. Newsweek banished the article to its ally The Daily Beast, where all links, including in my post about it, lead. That link is now dead: it just goes to the website. I searched the Daily Beast for the article: it isn’t there. But, oddly, a rebuttal to the article is. I suppose this is how the news media silences the apostates in its midst. Fortunately, this passage survives: Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade’”

I learn a lot writing this blog and especially hosting discussions  among the very diverse and informed participants in the comment wars. Mrs. Q’s assessment is her own, and undoubtedly some will see the developments she deplores in a different light (or deny that they are there to be seen), but I am not attentive enough to the gender wars to have been aware of much of what she is discussing.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Comment of the Day: “From The Law vs. Ethics File: The Discriminatory Charlotte Pride Parade”:

2017 is the year the gays rights movement in America died. From Pride celebrations (which btw no one asked any of us if Pride was really the word of our choice) not allowing police officers to wear their uniforms, to gays for Trump being shut out, to lesbians being told they couldn’t participate in a dyke march if they didn’t believe transwomen to be dykes, to a Dyke March where 2 straight women and  one gay man carried a sign that said “I (heart) d*ck” to my absolute favorite:

A “transdyke” wearing a white tee made to look bloody that said “I PUNCH TERFS”

(For those who don’t know, TERF is a disparaging term for feminist lesbians who believe in supporting biological women)

So tolerant, so loving and so free…right? Continue reading

50 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Love, Rights, Romance and Relationships