Question 1. Discuss whether or not you believe that Facebook has a legal or ethical duty to rescue a crime victim.
Facebook is a social media platform for people to interact and its main purpose is to bring people closer regardless of the geographical location. According to my opinion, Facebook does not have any legal obligation to fight crime. The duty that Facebook has is an ethical responsibility to report any criminal content that circulates through the Facebook platform. Facebook is not to be blamed 100% for the occurrence of these crimes because the offenders would have done them in one way or the other. Everyone is to blame; there are Facebook users who saw the first video that had Mr. Stephens threatening to end the old man’s life and instead of reporting the video to the authorities they went ahead and shared it for more people to watch. The obvious blame that Facebook can carry is the time taken to realize that those videos are streaming and the time is taken to respond. Facebook did not cause the murder of Mr. Robert Godwin. If the murderer could not have used Facebook he would have found any other way to commit the heinous crime. It is the responsibility of every Facebook user to put an end to this new trend by being ethical enough to report disturbing content that will cause more harm than good (White, 2017).
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Question 2. Suggest and elaborate on three ways that social media platforms can be more proactive and thorough with their review of the types of content that appear on their sites.
- Through the terms and conditions put in place to govern the content of updates, stricter enforcement of sanity checks should also be employed to make sure that the content is ethical. Close monitoring of the information posted will make users cautious on what to publicly share and what not to.
- Once a violent video or comment has been detected, the Facebook company should automatically permanently disable the account of the offender and forward the details about that person to other social media platforms so that the perpetrator does not get another chance or platform to carry on his/her unethical behaviors.
- The company should enable easier reporting flow between them and their users to enhance communication and for the users to report to them easily in case of any violent content online. They can emulate Google Company where numerous reports are being received every hour from their users where they get updated on the challenges they face. The company in return offer assistance where applicable (Kozlowska, 2017).
Question 3. Propose safeguards that Facebook and other social media platforms should put in place to help prevent acts of violence from being broadcasted.
Nothing much can be done by Facebook to completely stop or prevent the violent video from airing. This is the reason why the CEO of the Facebook company did not have a precise answer on what measures or actions that he is going to put in place in his speech in San Jose during the annual developers’ conference. The far they can go is just improving in a few areas and sees what happens (Kozlowska, 2017). When it comes to video live streaming, it has its positive side; it is used to create awareness and educate people on different issues including abuse. When the effects of live streaming are viewed on this end, to eliminate its use is nearly impossible.
- One of the safeguards that the company can take is the use of artificial intelligence which is an automatic process that takes down any prohibited online material. Since this safeguard is already in place it can be enhanced by being used alongside humans who can detect and determine whether certain content is acceptable or not. So this means that Facebook Company should not solely rely on computers but employ more staff for crucial ethical decisions to be made.
- Another safeguard is that the company should come up with policies that impose strict and harsh sanctions against individuals who fail to abide by the terms and conditions and make sure that they face the full force of the law. This will serve as a warning and a lesson to anyone who plans to commit a crime through Facebook. By doing this the rate of crimes on Facebook and other social medial platforms will go down.
Question 4. Conduct research to determine whether or not Facebook has an ethics officer or oversight committee.
According to the research that I have conducted, it is clear that Facebook does not have an ethics officer or an oversight committee. Facebook Company should hire a chief ethicist to assist in decision-making during and for the preparation of tough situations. An ethical officer or oversight committee is very vital in a company in terms of developing ethical guidelines and a code of ethics to avoid future tragedies such as the killing in Cleveland. The company fired the people who managed the trending section and replaced them with algorithms due to political controversy. As much as machines can replace what human beings can do, they do not have the ability to make ethical and sound decisions. An ethical officer will highlight the consequences of any innovation that the company is making so as it does not backfire on their faces like in the case of live streaming. A chief ethicist will also play an important role in the process of making decisions on the company’s values and ideas. By hiring an ethical officer, Facebook Company will be in a position to avoid crises such as the murder of Mr. Godwin and many other cases (Heider, 2017 and Dreyfuss, 2017).
Question 5. Changes Facebook should adopt
In his speech, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company has a lot to be done on their side in preventing tragedies from happening through Facebook. The company made a promise to develop programs that will prevent such videos from spreading. New challenges in using Facebook arise daily; from issues of hate speech to account hacking. The company should be on the alert of the happenings on daily basis to update their systems accordingly. One change that Facebook can adopt is the employment of stricter enforcement of the information provided during the creation of a Facebook account. More details should be added such as the attachment of important documents like the national identity document and a criminal clearance certificate from the police department. With this information in the database, it will be easier to identify in case of anything and impossible to impersonate or own multiple accounts. Another change that Facebook should make is to revisit their terms and conditions and come up with clear ethical guidelines that one should agree to before an account creation is approved. They should include the involvement of the law if the guidelines are not strictly being followed (Nieva and Solsman, 2017).
Dreyfuss, E. (2017). The One Hire Facebook Really Needs to Make to Curb Violence. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2017/05/one-hire-facebook-really-needs-make-curb-violence/
Heider, D. (2017). Why Facebook should hire a chief Ethicist. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/01/08/facebook-ethics-fake-news-social-media-column/96212172/
Kozlowska, H. (2017). Crime, live on video: The beast Facebook can’t control. Retrieved from https://qz.com/962843/facebook-cant-do-much-to-prevent-violent-videos-from-being-posted-but-it-can-deal-better-with-its-aftermath/
Nieva, R., & Solsman, J. (2017). Can Facebook solve its violent video problem?. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-live-violence-cleveland-thailand/
White, M. (2017). What accountability does Facebook have? – The Houstonian. Retrieved from http://houstonianonline.com/2017/04/25/what-accountability-does-facebook-have/
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