IT Ethics Assignment: Unethical Practice within Cambridge Analytica
This ethics assignmenthas two tasks as described below.
Task 1 (8%): Argument Visualisation
In task 1 you will create a simple argument visualisation using the MindMup software and you will produce a report in task 2 which details the argument you construct in your argument visualisation. Choose ONE of the following media articles or case studies:
1. The Ethics of “Giving People a Voice” and Political Advertising on Facebook
2. The federal government’s response to the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry is a let down
3. Countries Debate Openness of Future National IDs
4. Weaponization of Social Media by Authoritarian States
5. Do We Want Robot Warriors to Decide Who Lives or Dies?
Now follow the instructions given below to complete the assessment task:
• Use the title of the article/case study as the title of your argument visualisation so that the lecturer knows which article you are analysing.
• Undertake further research about your chosen case and the ethical issue involved, to assist you in analysing it in your argument visualisation (and in your report in Task 2).
• Identify some logical arguments and construct an argument visualisation using MindMup software. Your visualisation should contain the conclusion, and all of the reasons and objections leading to that conclusion.
• Your argument visualisation should present a logical argument for your subsequent report in Task 2. Your report will develop these arguments based on a deeper analysis of the ethical issue(s).
• Your report should contain all of the arguments contained in your visualisation, and you should not introduce new arguments in your report that are not in your visualisation.
• When you have completed your visualisation, download it as a .pdf file and submit via Turnitin.
N.B. You are not required to provide references in your visualisation, however your subsequent report in Task 2 should be fully referenced.
MindMup - https://www.mindmup.com/tutorials/
argument-visualization.html?orig=/ Philosophy Mapped (argument visualisation information) - https://maps.simoncullen.org/home
Task 2 (17%): Applying Ethical Theories
Follow the instructions given below to complete the task.
• Write a report based on your argument visualisation created in Task 1 and the media article or case study you selected in Task 1.
• Undertake further research about your chosen case and the ethical issue involved, to assist you in analysing and discussing it in your report.
• Analyse the ethical issue applying the classical ethical theories, including utilitarianism, deontology, contract, and virtue. Your report should present well-reasoned arguments, logically leading to appropriate recommendations.
• You should not introduce new arguments in your report that were not contained in your argument visualisation, and your report should contain all of the arguments contained in your visualisation.
• Write an overall conclusion that justifies your recommendations made in your report.
• Include a Reference list at the end of your work, using the correct APA referencing style, corresponding to in-text citations. The word limit for the report is 1500 words +/-10%. Headings, citations, references and appendices do not count towards the word limit, but quotations do.
Task 1: Argument Visualisation based on the case selected in the ethics assignment
Selected Media Article: The Ethics of “Giving People a Voice” and Political Advertising on Facebook
Figure 1: Argument Visualisation
(Source: Created by the learner)
The figure 1 represents the case study of Cambridge Analytica. The selected article is linked to the case study as Cambridge Analytica used people’s personal information and data to assist the political parties by tailoring the campaigns according to people’s expectations and behaviour. The above map shows the people involved in one of the biggest elections. On a final note, it could be concluded that the organisation’s actions were unethical as they did not state the true intention of the test to the users. They attained consumer’s private information without their concern and user’s privacy was at stake.
Reasons and Objections
• The organisation conducted questionnaire tests without stating the reason, the organisation was not transparent
• The organisation collected user’s personal information from other companies to assist Trump to tailor the campaign
• The organisation did not care about people’s privacy
• The actions of Cambridge Analytica could have caused disturbance to the society by helping a political party with wrong intents
Task 2: Applying Ethical Theories
The rise of social media and technology has sorted many things but it has also brought serious privacy concerns. The article selected for this study has been focused on the unethical practices that were used by the organization called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica Ltd was mainly a British Consulting firm that summed misappropriation of data analysis, data brokerage, data mining and digital assets with strategic communication mainly during the electoral period of time. Cambridge Analytica was found to be using user’s private information in an unauthorized manner.The political consulting organization claimed that they used questionnaires for gathering information and data to identify and evaluate different behaviour of social media users mainly Facebook. The organization used those data to assist the political candidate (Trump’s election). The organization allowed the political candidates to tailor their campaign mainly according to the people’s expectation and personality. The organization was unethically using the social media user’s private and personal information for own benefit. It would not be wrong to state that the election process could be biased due to the use of such methods. Most importantly, private information was at stake. The political message was getting improved by using private information.
Cambridge Analytical took more severe unethical steps just to gather private information of the users by comparing the test to the pipe that takes the test to the information gathered from people that had not attempted for the test to improve the target audience. It was reported that the political consulting firm was gathering the non-test taker’s information and data mainly from the consumer database companies such as Infogroup, Experian and Acxion (Wilson, 2019). The study evaluates different ethical issues that were violated by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica on the pursuit to attain a strong hand in the elections for their clients. The selected article is analysed and evaluated from the perspective of four different classical ethical theories and those are virtue, contact deontology and utilitarianism.
The utilitarianism theory is stated to be a normative ethical theory that generally places the focus on wrong and right solely on the consequences and outcomes of choosing one policy or actions over the other policies or actions. Utilitarianism theory moves beyond the scope of one’ own interest and also takes into account the other’s interest. The utilitarianism theory also implies that the decision made is going to be ethical only if the end results provide bean refers to numerous people.
In the Cambridge Analytica case, the primary goal was to gather and use people’s personal private information to assist their clients to attain a strong hand in the elections by tailoring the campaigns according to the people’s interest. This increased the chances of winning the election. The unauthorized use of people’s private and personal data is not going to provide any kind of benefits to people. As the data already belongs to them, however, the gathered data was giving the clients a huge edge and stronger hand in the future selection as the campaigns got prepared according to people's interest and expectations. There was a possibility that a political party with a false and wrong international agenda could use their service to win the election. The entire region and society would suffer due to this business operation (Laterza, 2018). From the utilitarianism point of view, the organization operation was unethical and the outcomes were not creating benefits to people. On the other hand, the personal information of the users was used without their concern. The motivation of the pagination was of harvesting personalities in unicycle action with negative outcomes to the city. So, the operation and action of Cambridge Analytica were unethical.
The deontology is basically an ethical theory that follows and uses the belief to distinguish the wrong and right. As per the deontology theory, the action is judged whether it is right or wrong on the basis of moral code. The outcome and consequences of that action and decision are taken into consideration while judging whether the action or decision is right or wrong. It has been stated that the acts and decisions that are not good morally could lead to something that is not beneficial or good to others. In the Cambridge Analytica case, the organisation is found to be using unauthorized data and personal information of the people for personal interest. The organisation is using personal information to carry out moves that the users are completely unaware of; this could lead to uncertain consequences. The political consulting firm did not disclose their true intention with the users while gathering information. Other experts have stated that Cambridge Analytica was playing with behaviour, the firm was manipulating people's voting decisions and this is completely unethical. However, the study is focused on privacy issues related to the case. The motives of the organization were unethical and the outcomes could have led to severe consequences.
The contract theory is generally explained as the study of how the organisation and people develop and construct legal agreements. The contract theory mainly analyses how the firm or the parties with conflicting interest develop informal and formal contracts. As per the view of Arora&Zinolabedini(2019), the contract theory basically draws on the principles of economic and financial behaviour as different parties have different incentives to not perform or to perform any specifications. The contracts and provisions are evaluated by this theory. As per the view of Fiesleret al. (2018), the contract theory explains that society members have to abide by the regulations and rules made for the enhancement of society and also to maintain peace. The theory assists in mitigating the disputes among the people.
In the Cambridge Analytica case, the contact theory could be used to evaluate whether the operations and actions of the firm were ethical or not. The political consulting firm conducted a questionnaire test to gather people’s personal information and this does not violate any policy or rule. However, the firm never disclosed their true intention behind data collection and this could be stated unethical. The firm was not at all transparent with the users and they used their information for supporting election campaigns. The consequences of the actions made by the firm were not in favour of the users.
The virtue theory is mainly a philosophy that was funded by Aristotle and a few other ancient Greeks. This particular theory is considered as a character-based approach to mortality. The virtue theory mainly assumes that people acquire virtue only by practising. As per the view of Peruzzi et al. (2018), by being brave, generous, honest a person could develop moral and honourable character. This theory is also based on the Eudaimonia idea which eventually means living a happy and prosperous life. The theory generally supports the fulfilment of people’s needs and ensuring that other people are not getting affected.
In the Cambridge Analytica case, the action of the firm is not at all ethical as the organization is not transparent to the users. The firm is not disclosing why the test is being conducted to the users. The use of the questionnaire test results was also not advised ahead of time to the users. The users were informed that their data was getting for political purposes. There is a possibility that the users could have declined to answer the questions if the form stated their intent. This is clear that the firm’s morale was inclining mainly towards the unethical behaviour as it was found to be harming the user’s rights for their own gain. The results and outcomes of the firm’s operation could have created a negative impact on the society as there was a possibility that the firm could have made a political party with wrong content to win the election. The firm’s actions were found out to be unethical in many aspects (Chen, 2018).
The investigation of the contextual analysis evaluated that the exercises and the intentions of Cambridge Analytica is deceptive. The organization has disregarded the security and assent of the open which is illicit. It is obvious that the organization ought to give complete honesty on their intentions and ought to request the client's position before utilizing the test data for any reason. The organization ought to have been straightforward about the techniques for procurement of the information from outside organizations and furthermore unveil where, how and to what extent the information will be utilized. Utilizing straightforward character tests to gather the target crowd for political design is morally off-base as it is impacting the potential voters. The expectation, confidence and plan of the Cambridge Analytica totally dismiss the moral rules. This contextual investigation clarifies the desperation of checking on and re-implementing the laws and guidelines in this computerized information-driven age. The utilization of open information for spontaneous use on different stages ought to be observed and people, in general, ought to be given full rights to the use of their own data. Thus, there ought to be contracts made open about the utility of the open information in different significant parts and people, in general, ought to be made mindful about the business utilization of their private data which could be accumulated from an elective stage.?
Arora, N., &Zinolabedini, D. (2019).The Ethical Implications of the 2018 Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal.Student Works. Retrieved on: 12 May 2020 from:https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/80574/AroraZinolabediniThe%20Ethical% 20Implications%20of%20the%202018%20Facebook-Cambridge%20Analytica%20Data%20Scandal.pdf?sequence=2
Chen, A. (2018). Cambridge Analytica and our lives inside the surveillance machine.The New Yorker, 21, 8-10. Retrieved on: 12 May 2020 from:http://personal-computing.coryarcangel.com/Cambridge-Analytic.pdf
Fiesler, C., Bruckman, A., Kraut, R. E., Muller, M., Munteanu, C., &Shilton, K. (2018, October). Research ethics and regulation: An open forum.Ethics assignment In Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. 125-128). Retrieved on: 12 May 2020 from:https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3272973.3274543
Laterza, V. (2018).Cambridge Analytica, independent research and the national interest.Anthropology Today, 34(3), 1-2. https://rai.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8322.12430 Peruzzi, A., Zollo, F., Quattrociocchi, W., &Scala, A. (2018). How news may affect markets’ complex structure: The case of cambridgeanalytica. Entropy, 20(10), 765. Retrieved on: 12 May 2020 from:https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/20/10/765
Wilson, R. (2019, July). Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and Influence Operations: A Case Study and Anticipatory Ethical Analysis. In European Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security (pp. 587-XX). Academic Conferences International Limited. Retrieved on: 12 May 2020 from:http://search.proquest.com/openview/b2de0d9e0b088a0711696220cfa58d82/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=396497