Blog by Pat Radigan
Follow me: @cornfedBOSSman
When can branding go from smart self-promotion to over-the-top bragging?
Social media is increasingly being used to research human behavior and interaction. recently, studies have been conducted on the topic. A March 12 USA Today article discussed how private companies, like Google, Facebook and Target, are monitoring social media accounts and using it for research.
In some cases, the companies do this to personalize sale advertisements. Facebook and Google use your location, likes and search results to target you with specific ads you may like.
All this research can get a little strange. Target, for instance, can monitor purchases and know when a woman is pregnant. Microsoft can identify women at risk of postpartum depression.
Academics are also using social media for research, and they are conducting studies on how social media is used. One study from social psychologist Ilka Gleibs, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics in London, said, “Facebook is transformed from a public space to a behavioral laboratory.”
All of this research brings up privacy and ethical issues. People who post online don’t realize that their information is traveling to more than just their “friends.” Facebook has backtracked on its privacy standards more than once, and more than half of people who leave the site say they did so for privacy reasons.
Public data is a subject that has come under a lot of discussion lately as people strive to establish a set of rules for what should and shouldn’t be published. It’s already available, so what can it hurt?
One area where the publication of public information has come under fire is in the legal system. What should be made public, and how does the release of such information affect the assumption of innocence? As newspapers and reporting outlets look to digitize data, arrest records and other information, the need for regulation of this practice has even caught the eye of Poynter.
In the case discussed by this post, the issue is whether or not running a mug shot was the right thing to do IN PRINT, but what about online? If it’s bad enough to put it on thousands of papers, what about putting it on the world wide web?
In this article, the discussion about whether or not mugshot archives are ethical takes center stage, and it touches on ethical issues that concern much more than just mugshots and crime data.
BuzzFeed’s Jessica Testa did a story about rape survivors who tweeted out what they had been wearing when they were assaulted. The women were responding on Twitter and were encouraged to do so by @steenfox. According to Kelly McBride of Poynter: “The results were rather spectacular.Some were in college when they were assaulted. Others were children. The precise details of their memories – pink pajamas, or peep-toe flats – provided a window into the insidious nature of rape.”
But Testa was assailed, even though her story noted that she obtained permission from survivors to use their tweets and honored their requests to blur out names and/or faces. @steenfox challenged Testa for failing to get permission from her. @steenfox didn’t identify herself as a survivor in two tweets that asked others to share their stories.
McBride supported Testa on Poynter, saying this:
“These are healthy conversations to have. But it’s unfortunate that some folks are condemning Testa. It doesn’t really look like she did anything wrong.
Confusion over how to identify rape survivors and tell their stories keeps many reporters from tackling the subject. This reaction stokes those concerns.”