Social Media Civility

Social media sites (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit to name a few) allow their users to experience a completely open form of freedom of speech in the online world. Ideally, one could post whatever they please, but this does not come without repercussions. With any opinion that one may have, there will be at least one other person that does not agree with it. This disagreement can lead to incivility. In order to promote a healthy environment for all, civility on social media is something we must all work on.

Everyone wants to feel free to voice their opinions on social media, but we must respect that others too may have opinions that very from our own and they too have the right to voice this difference. When these differences come to the surface, debates are a natural way to relieve stresses in relationships between peers, but there is a healthy way to go about this to promote civilly. In order to do this, when debating make sure to present facts and statistics to back up your information rather than giving bias and uneducated opinions. This way, you add to the conversation thoughtfully and intend to educate the other party rather than to condescend them. When trying to educate and add to a conversation, one must make an active effort to be courteous to the other party and take their opinion to the same regard as your own. This was, everyone can feel as if they are validated and equal in the conversation.

To conclude, when implementing free speech and voicing an opinion on social media, be sure to be courteous of others and their right to voice their opinion as well. By doing this, we can promote more civility on social media.

Artificial Intelligence: Ethically Moral?

Everyday we face decisions, but how can we tell if something we do is ethical? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term ethics as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. In this blog post, I will be debating if the use of artificial intelligence (AI) softwares by companies is inherently ‘ethical’. Artificial intelligence softwares use specific algorithms to teach a computer program how to react to certain circumstances and commands. Examples of these are Siri for the iPhone and Alexa for Amazon devices, along with many others. These softwares are pretty advanced and require meticulous programming to respond to human conversion, but come with their own downfalls. The downfall I will me focused on today is privacy, or the lack thereof.

Many artificial intelligence softwares respond to commands such as “Hey Siri” and “Alexa, play…” which requires them to be listening in at all times to be able to identify these commands. If a software is listening at all times, what else are they hearing? AI softwares hear our every word which gives the company that runs them the ability to collect data on its users, much of that data being very personal. Where is the data they are collecting from us going? Companies such as Facebook have been under hot water lately for selling the personal information of their users to third-party companies, so what keeps the of AI from believing that the companies responsible for developing such softwares from doing so also? Some may not worry about where the personal information collected by AI softwares go, but this can lead to some sticky situations. For example, an executive board of a company could be in a meeting discussing important, confidential statistics. Most people nowadays have a smartphone that they carry everywhere. With these smartphones everywhere, there are bound to be some in the previously mentioned meeting listening in to every word being said. This means that the information that was confidential beforehand is no longer kept a secret. This isn’t confined to executive board meetings, but also to our daily lives.

Consequentialism, or Teleological, ethics can be applied to this situation. Teleological ethics focuses on what is the greatest good for the greatest amount of people. Artificial intelligence softwares being able to listen in on users and collecting data may benefit the companies that develop them (and possibly other third-party companies if they do sell the information), but harm users by invading their privacy. The users outnumber the companies by a long shot, so one could argue that the use of AI is inherently bad and should be disbanded.

Knowing that AI softwares are listening in on you at any given moment, would you be more weary of what you say in the presence of a device? With the use of smart devices on the ever-growing rise, is there any way to escape the listening ears of AI?

Using Viral Fame to Make a Change

In chapter 3 of Social Media Freaks: Digital Identity in the Network Society by Dustin Kidd, Kidd focuses on how social media and members of the LGBTQ+ community are interconnected. One concept that Kidd goes on to explain in this chapter is how a meber of the LGBTQ+ community may go viral and how they use their fifteen minutes of fame to serve a bigger purpose.

The example that Kidd uses is Antoine Dodson. Dodson rose to fame in an interview with a local news team about the heartbreaking attempted rape of his sister in the lower income living community of Lincoln Park in Huntsville, Alabama. You may know him by his words that went viral, “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband cuz they rapin’ er’body up in here.” (cited in Johnson 2013, 152) The recording of this interview rapidly made its way to YouTube, iTunes, and many other media outlets. Dodson then became known as the “Hide ya kids” guy, a colored, homosexual, and southern man. His identity and viral fame led him to become a meme that pokes fun at his very own identity.

Instead of letting the stereotypes from memes created to make fun of him, Dodson put his fame to his own advantage by using the income he received from his fame to move his family into a home in a better area. He also went on to become the spokesperson for the Bed Intruder App, a personal security system, performed at the BET Music Awards, and raised money for a juvenile diabetes foundation.

If given the opportunity to have a voice due to viral fame, how would you try to make a change?

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