Broadcasters Behaving Badly

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The lecture for this week was titled “Broadcasters Behaving Badly,” and what I liked about it was that it was a look at public figures in broadcasting/entertainment who seemed to have under-appreciated just how much they were broadcasting/remaining in the public eye while using social media.  I tend to agree with James Franco in that “social media is tricky” and as a culture, we are all still working on the learning curve associated with social media and understanding what is appropriate for social media and what is not.  The unfortunate thing for people in the public eye is that they have to learn this lesson with a huge amount of people watching. 

Rihanna-tweet

Now, I am not saying that all celebrities that send inappropriate Tweets are victims to the social media monster.  Hardly.  Rihanna should have known that her #FreePalestine tweet would lead to trouble.  It’s just too sensitive an issue.   Huey Morgan, on the other hand, I don’t think was too out of line with his social media posts.  He may have created an uncomfortable working environment, sure, but the opinions he shared were his own and it’s not like he got super specific with his tweets.  I really like the advice that the lecture gave in that “If you wouldn’t say it on the air, don’t tweet it.”  I think this is good advice that takes into account the already established personality from the tweeter.  For example, I would be less surprised to see Kanye West call Jimmy Kimmel ugly on Twitter than I would if the pope called someone ugly on Twitter.  Now, that’s a pretty extreme example, sure, but the point is that this advice allows the person to perpetuate their already established personality on social media.

This raises the question though: can a public figure have freedom on social media?  Unfortunately, I think the answer here is NO, but it is not the fault of the celebrity.  The problem is that as a figure becomes more public, they also become more susceptible to the sensitivity of their public.  We (Americans) have become very sensitive anymore and anything tweeted can even make its way to court where the “victim” is demanding reparations for being exposed to the mean opinions of others.  I actually have seen this with a musician I have watched evolve into the public eye.  I have noticed a vast difference in the way he Tweets now, compared to when he was less popular and he has told us it is because he does not want to ruin potential deals with people paying him for his creative output.  So, yes, celebrities should have freedom on social media, but unfortunately, that freedom comes with a lot of responsibility.

If I were managing a figure like this, I think I would just try to warn them.  While I can’t see myself ever favoring censoring someone, I do think that if they were aware of the hassle that they can potentially create with 140 characters, they might be less likely to tweet inappropriately.  

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To Post or Not to Post: The Dilemma of Violent Photos

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The assignment for this week asked us to examine to ethical implications of using graphic photos in an era of media dominated by digital and online platforms.  When examining these implications, I feel there are two main considerations to maintain in regards to the ethics:  de-sensitivity and privacy. 

De-sensitivity

If we were to make graphic photos in regards to violence more common, one would have to consider the human sensitivity element first.  What I mean by that is the fact that showing these photos can affect sensitivity in a couple different ways.  First, people can become de-sensitized to this violence.  Seeing violence at the level of someone losing a leg after the Boston Bombing, for example, could be the “trigger” that pushes them over the limit and allows them to think violence isn’t as bad as they thought it was when the image was considered taboo.  Especially when thinking about young children having access to these photos before they have fully developed the difference between right and wrong.  However, on the other hand, by exposing people to this violence, perhaps they can become more aware and demand more accountability from our elected officials before creating violence of our own.  I mentioned the example of drone strikes in the US and how we don’t typically SEE the collateral damage we create when innocent civilians are killed.  It’s easier to not be concerned with these people when they are a blurb in an article compared to actually having to see the carnage.

Privacy

Privacy is the other ethical implication I will discuss in regards to this concept and can be just as complicated as the first.  On the one hand, I think putting these photos out creates an awareness that allows the viewer to really accept the harshness of these situations.   On the other, putting these photos out can lead to a privacy breach that can hurt the victim even more.  Before I began writing this piece, I thought I would present the idea of making these photos anonymous by blurring out the person’s face if it is in the shot.  Now, I am not so sure I like that idea because keeping the photo private doesn’t make it “real” to the viewer, potentially just further de-sensitizing them to the violence.  Then I thought about a “waiver” of some sort that must be signed in order to release the image just like on TV, but we will not always be able to get that waiver signed in traumatic situations.  So for now, I think I will say it depends on the situation but that we should fault on the side of privacy. 

Which side of sensitivity do you see being the more likely?  Creating people more comfortable and accepting with violence or less?

What trauma cases can you think of where a person’s face being in a photo is a bad idea?  A good idea?

Lecture Response on Social Media and Boston Bombings

Explosion at Boston marathon

The lecture for this week really put a true-to-life application to ethics in media and mass communication and gave me a lot to think about.  The Boston Marathon Bombing was an event that brought a lot of attention to social media and the ability to spread information very quickly.  According to the lecture, a quarter of Americans found out about the event on social media and more than HALF of young Americans found out this way.  A shift in trends for discovering news information should become apparent with that statement.  Half of young Americans found out about this tragedy through social media.  My, what big power you have social media!

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This brings up a few major concerns for me that I will discuss more in depth for my assignment response, but will mention them here.  (Appropriately) First, is the issue of accuracy and wanting to report stories as quickly as possible.  As the lecture pointed out, CNN actually sent out an inaccurate tweet regarding the detainment of a suspect in relation to the bombings.  That tweet received more ReTweets than the correction tweet that later followed it, bringing up questions about the ability for false information to quickly spread in these types of situations.  Justin (@newsleader) asked us if a solution that forced corrected Tweets to automatically be ReTweeted by anyone who shared the false tweet was a good solution, and personally, I think it is not.  The problem with that is it would give too much power to the ReTweet.  While this might be a good idea for news organizations, what about people looking to advertise a sale?  Why not “correct” a tweet that got good engagement so that you can reach that same large audience again?  Too much power. 

The second issue that I have is with the idea of maintaining an appropriate level of privacy in these types of situations.  We were asked if the picture of a man who lost his leg in the bombings being Tweeted was appropriate.  Personally, in this scenario, I think it is but only on news “stations” that are known for their non-apologetic pictures; and even then, I might consider blurring out the person’s face.  Hiding these types of details regarding the violence of an act only censors the issue and de-sensitizes the American public to harshness of violence.  Imagine if pictures of civilians that are killed as a result of our drone attacks in other countries were to be more public; maybe some more oversight would be demanded by Americans.  In cases like sexual abuse however, I do favor not sharing the identity of victims.  Very case-by-case subject there.

Finally, the issue of “capitalizing” on these types of situations arises.  While I don’t find this practice unacceptable, I do think it is in bad form.  Just because everyone is looking, doesn’t mean you need to take advantage of that.  It just further perpetuates the short attention span of Americans by trivializing important issues while they are popular.  Maybe the Ford tweet would have been more appropriate on the 1 year anniversary for example.  

Lecture on Social Media and the Workplace

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The lecture for this week got me to reflect a lot on workplace ethics, particularly in regard to social media.  In my opinion, there are two main areas to consider workplace ethics as it relates to social media: how we are talking about our jobs or work on social media and whether or not we are using social media while at work.  Both topics have their own implications and can greatly affect the way we interact with our jobs. 

The first one I would like to discuss is whether or not we are using personal social media while at work.  I do use social media at work, but I don’t feel it is “too much” of a distraction.  I like to check in on my Twitter feed pretty often, and because I am subscribed to certain topics that relate to my job (higher education and #AcAdv for advising topics), I actually feel like I am improving as an advisor using social media.  I also follow anytime my school is mentioned on Twitter and that helps me keep an eye on what is being discussed about the school (for example, as it is summer, there are a lot of posts about Orientation).  The lecture asked us if bosses should ethically be able to monitor what people are doing on social media.  To me, I think it depends on the industry you are in and what you are doing on social media.  So maybe if a boss discovers that someone is spending a lot of time on social media, they can give them a chance to justify why they are doing that.

The second issue I found myself reflecting on was how we speak about our jobs while on our personal social media account. We have seen a few documents at this point that discuss various companies’ policies for social media use and having a document like this can certainly help for making some of these policies well known.  Some of it is “common sense,” but some of it needs to be said because I don’t think people really appreciate just how public social media really is.  Personally, I try to only speak about my job in an informative way.  So maybe sharing discussions about advising that are going on or even Retweeting a nice picture of my campus that I find.  I never really complain about my job on social media because I feel like that is not what it is for.  I do think in many cases, however, it is probably just best that people not talk about where they work on social media, it’s just too risky.  

Lecture Response on Privacy… Does it exist?

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The lecture this week can mostly be summed up by one of its featured quotes from NPR: “Nothing on the web is truly private.” I tend to really agree with this and think that people should be of the mindset that if you put it on the internet, assume EVERYONE can see it. Privacy is a luxury not afforded to those that choose to document their lives on Facebook or other social media outlets.

The lecture asked us how often we check our privacy settings and I will admit that I do not check them enough. In fact, I have been a member of Twitter for more than a year now and I can safely say I have not checked them since the first day I started. I have, however, gone into my Twitter settings to see which third party companies have access to my Twitter and have revoked many of those permissions. Truth be told, I wasn’t really surprised when the lecture estimated that around 13 million people have never looked at their privacy settings. It’s just one of those things that is not a concern until it is a concern.

We were also asked if social networks can do anything about privacy and helping users understand their various levels of control. I really enjoyed another quote from the readings that I think answer this question: giving increased control over privacy may lead to decreased privacy. The problem is that you opt-in to the less private option in most cases and then many people won’t be bothered to read the privacy settings. Therefore, I agree with the quote in that asking people more specific questions about their privacy settings will usually result in them not participating at all and opting in to the less private option.

From a journalism perspective, privacy can be quite interesting as well. I really enjoy the clips of the debate from the lecture that we get to watch and have an opinion about the question as to whether or not a journalist can use social media to connect with sensitive news situations. To me, a Facebook request is like ringing someone on the phone. They have caller ID and they have the right not to answer. However, once they choose to answer the phone or accept the friend request, they have begun to share information freely. That’s why in movies even as old as the Terminator, the target is told to stay off the phone and remain in the vehicle that is taking them away from the dangerous situation (typically some wood panel station wagon slightly older and dirtier than the rest of the cars on the street, but inconspicuous nonetheless). Or in more recent movies, the first thing people do when they are trying to hide is smash their phones; it’s just what needs to be done to remain private. Again, the “target” should know that “Nothing on the web is truly private.” I guess maybe because I am closer to a Millenial generation, but this just makes sense to me.

Data Mining: Is this OK? Too bad…

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Thank you for clicking on the link to read my response to this week’s lecture!  Using bit.ly, I have mined data about your click and plan to use that data to create content that engages my audience.  Is that OK with you?  Do I need to ask?  A lot of questions can arise when thinking about personal data that we forfeit to companies and government just simply by using our computers or personal devices.  The lecture gave us some things to think about, but this data is so large and overwhelming that I worry that we can never fully grasp just how much data is being collected about us at any given time.

I believe that anything that we interact with that is capable of transmitting data, probably is.  Purchase history, browsing information, social media posts, all sorts of different things can be used as valuable data for gaining an insight about consumer behavior or even human behavior.  Is this a breach of privacy?  Certainly.  The internet, to me, is a “public domain” of sorts where choosing to “drive down the information super highway” means that anyone who cares to collect and sort data about the way we drive, can.  Thanks to software, we can now collect and sort an amount of data that would shock most people.  There’s even a market for this data which has created entire industries designed around harvesting it.  Do I have concerns with this?  Sure.  Do I think the people that collect this data care? Not really, but I am going to discuss them anyway.

I think the line for inappropriate data collection should be when it can potentially hurt someone or can involve stealing from them.  Credit card activity is one that I am concerned with and is becoming more prevalent now that the “bad guys” are getting pretty good at mining data themselves.  I LOVE the recent dilemma Facebook has found itself in where it has researched the effects of exposing certain users to more negative posts in an effort to see if it could change their mood.  It did, and now people are mad about that study.  However, as the article points out, they are not mad enough to cancel their accounts.  But what was Facebook’s intent?  Did Facebook set out to upset people?  No, they set out to see if people would become upset.  Now because they did actually upset people, should I have a problem with that?  Well, I said I had a problem with people being hurt above, but this seems like a valid study to me and one Facebook is within their rights to perform…. AHHHHH! The dilemmas!

Finally, can I justify this behavior?  Yeah, I think so.  As I said before, the internet is a public domain of sorts and using it is not a right, it’s a privilege.   That privilege is not without certain responsibility (i.e.: forfeits of privacy) and if you don’t want to have data mined about you, good luck with that….. Me?  I just have too much fun exchanging information and data myself that I am not willing to sacrifice the ability to shop online from home, with my wife, on the TV, and have a package delivered within two business days for some privacy!  Thanks Urban Outfitters!  Feel free to use the information about my purchase to suggest more items I might like (just PLEASE secure my credit card information!).  At the end of the day, I suppose we just have to trust the intentions of the people gathering the data.  That shouldn’t be a problem, right?

(sorry that was a bit of a wordy post, but the ideas and thoughts are just flowing right now, great lecture!)