Final Exam Question 1:
Which do you think are the top 3 issues in Computer Ethics today?
Rank them by order of urgency and relevance. Support your answer/ranking with researched facts and opinions as to why they are the most relevant today. Do not just use your own opinion. Cite your sources.
Professional Ethics – Stealing Ideas
Stealing ideas is shows a great disrespect by taking the work of others and brand it as their own. In the internet and in my profession, this is nothing new. Even the famous Steve Jobs spinned off Picasso’s quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal”, then continued, “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” In a highly competitive IT world, we would rather take the shortest path to success ridden with unethical practices rather than be someone who is original but with low chances of taking off the ground.
In business, it is known that the “customer is always right”. In my profession, it is the client. As a freelance UI/UX designer, it has been my pride to create quality outputs that are considered aesthetically pleasing and has an effective design. It takes time to research, get inspiration and create a design to satisfy not just the client’s taste, but I also take into consideration the users who will interact with the design. The best part of my work is when I get the projects where I get to explore my creative side and innovate at the same time.
However, most of the time, clients have no idea what it takes to create a design. They would think that creativity can be downloaded from Google; and with a few clicks and a press of a button – creativity magically appears out of thin air. Clients would give suggestions of what websites they like and would ask me to do something similar – and this means to copy the exact thing, just with a different brand name.
A part of me greatly understands the hard work an artist dedicates to his/her craft. There are some second-rate designers proliferating over the web, providing cheap services for something unoriginal and of low quality, sometimes they mask copying ideas as “getting an inspiration”. There is a demand for them and this is problematic for my trade. Sometimes, the client themselves push this to us as they have their reasons as well – tight budget, deadlines, and even just personal preferences.
In most occasions, I would tell my clients immediately about how wrong it is to simply steal the work of others. Sometimes, I feel cornered by my need to earn for a living and just go and agree with whatever the client demands, hoping that maybe my next client would be a lot better.
Internet technology has greatly advanced due to very high competition, constant copying and stealing of ideas. Before Facebook, there were Friendster and MySpace that got us to stalking people. Before Google, it was Yahoo!’s search engines that did our homeworks for us. The internet is a hodgepodge of ideas whether if it is original, innovative, renovated, copied or stolen – it is no longer relevant. As a professional, this unethical stealing of ideas has already desensitized me. The culture has already been there even before I came. However, I would still like to try and be the better person who contributes better ideas rather than steal them.
Social media and the professional trolls.
Social media has taken everyone’s attention in our country especially this year. The 2016 Philippine Elections, the US Elections, and lately the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB). I have never seen people so divided in social media, friends unfriending each other, passionate arguments leading to bitterness and eventually blocking everyone that’s not a part of their political ideals. “It’s either you are with me or against me,” this was the prevailing theme of all arguments. Most of them were even very harsh and demeaning – criticizing the current government you are one of the “yellows” or a drug addict, while supporting the government meant you are “Dutertard”. The comments section of each news article, shared posts or status were heavily laden with these comments and there is no end to it. I have seen it, witnessed it and even participated in it – guilty as one of those who started to unfollow whose opinions are different from mine.
In the comments section of every post, there will always be someone who will instigate arguments that are off-point, repetitive, and unintellectual. These are the internet trolls. They are always aggressive, angry, and looking for an argument. However, there are what we call the professional trolls – what they do is instigate the trolls to create an argument that wasn’t there in the first place. They seem to ‘activate’ them, creating a toxic environment that draws a lot of angry and emotional commenters.
The true goal of these professionals are not merely to create senseless brouhahas, but to create buzz – to make things trend. Trending posts and articles are very good for marketing and advertising. Essentially, professional trolls are a new breed of PR specialists, advertising agents, and marketing professionals. In PR, there is no such thing as bad publicity. In social media, as long is it’s trending, it’s good for the advertisers – more clicks is more money.
This unethical business model is quite alarming as it affects a lot of people. Social media is quite accessible now even to low income households because of free Facebook plans by our cellular networks. Arguments in the social media has never been more harsh, demeaning, hateful and toxic. Instead of creating a healthy atmosphere where concerned citizens can engage in a proper debate, it loses everyone into an emotional rage and hatred for others. It is sad to know that there are people who will take advantage of the current turmoil that our country is facing for the sake of profit. Furthermore, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to identify these professional trolls as it’s easy to create dummy accounts in the social media.
With all the ruckus, we unfortunately have little powers against it. Instead, I have chosen to contribute in the fight against ignorance, and to continue on keeping the art of debate and diplomatic argumentation alive. Engaging those who are neutral to participate, educate, and also initiate proper discourse against those who have different views.
The proliferation of Fake News.
One of ethical dilemmas in the internet age is Accuracy. Who is responsible for the authenticity, fidelity and accuracy of information? Similarly, who is to be held accountable for errors in information and how is the injured party to be made whole?
Social media’s core function is their ability to share posts and make things viral. It may be a fancy photo, a funny video, memes, news articles, and worst of all – fake news. More often than not, people in social media instantly share these fake news without actually reading them. Most of these articles have misleading headlines that are provocative in nature. They appeal to the readers who are not very fond of reading but are only interested in highlights of the story and the truth gets lost somewhere.
Another form on how fake news proliferates is by the use of clickbaits. Clickbaits are titles of articles especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page. If they see an article heading titled “What We Found Was Shocking” or “What Happens Next Will Surprise You!”, readers jump in to view the article and without verifying the source, shares it back to their social media account. The interesting headline will capture other users’ attention as well and thus the fake news article would propagate.
For lighthearted stories, gossips, or entertainment news, clickbaits are not particularly unethical. However, for articles that can create misinformation like science articles, news, politics, and information that affects people’s decision are crucial. There is now way of really stopping the wave of fake news as their main purpose is simply to generate clicks for profit. Sadly, the effects of this are the creation of a culture of ignorance and misinformation.
Thus, for every news article that appears in the newsfeed, it is important that we stay vigilant and aware on where this information comes from. Before sharing a potentially incorrect article, it is a best practice to cross reference this with other information sites. For everything that we do in the internet, a maxim that we should always keep in mind is to “think before we click”.