The Big Q
A dialogue on the big questions college students face.
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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014
At Santa Clara University, “Week 5” sparks a tidal wave of midterm studying stress and a seemingly endless “to-do” list of assignments. Last week during the chaos, I sat in my library study cubicle and surveyed the concentrating students around me. I noticed a peculiar trend. Instead of typing away on term papers or studying lecture notes, students played on their smartphones, the screens forming a sea of flickering yellow. One after another, students posed for pictures with coffee mugs and stacked textbooks, giggling at their shameless “selfie” Snapchats. Snap! Snap! Snap!
Snapchat. It’s photographic documentation at super speed. Since its launch in 2011, the application has seen massive success. In fact, users send an estimated 700 million photos and videos via Snapchat per day. The best part? The photos disappear after an allotted amount of time—or so we think.
Despite its popularity, Snapchat’s privacy issues have slammed national news headlines. Security breach issues first surfaced earlier this year after a hacker website obtained over 4.6 million user names and phone numbers. Two weeks ago, hackers released another overwhelmingly large database of photos, this time accessed through a third-party application. In all cases, users believed that their “snaps” disappeared after opening; however, in our technologically advanced society, hackers managed to make the vanished reappear.
The issue brings up several ethical questions regarding technology and privacy. First, if we willingly share photos, can we blame others when and if the content leaks?
In addition, we can examine privacy itself. Is privacy a right or a luxury?
Finally, what role do technology companies have in protecting our privacy?
Monday, Sep. 30, 2013
The best student comment on "Selfies" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, October 13th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
Stacy is a sophomore in college who is addicted to Instagram. She regularly posts multiple photos a day showing her followers what she is up to. Stacy views Instagram as a way to stay connected with her friends. While many of these Instagram photos incorporate amazing sights or delicious-looking baked goods, she also posts a lot of selfies. One day Stacy posts a photo of herself by the pool in her new string bikini. Another day, she takes a picture of herself in a sexy camisole getting ready for bed.
These photos start to attract a lot of attention from her college peers. On her way to class one day she hears two guys she has never met talking about her as she walks by. She even sees one of her peers looking at one of her Instagram selfies on his phone in class.
Stacy’s best friend, Andrea, confronts her about posting these photos. She claims that showing this kind of photo on social media is not only dangerous but also can make guys think of Stacy as a skank. Stacy says she is simply expressing herself through these selfies, and that if people don’t want to see these photos, then they can stop following her on Instagram.
Is Andrea right to be worried about Stacy? If guys take Stacy’s photos the wrong way, is that her responsibility? What if a man posted a photo of himself shirtless or in a bathing suit? Would that be a problem? If so, why is there a difference in the way we view photos put up by men and women?
A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making
Video: It's Your Fault
Opinion from a Young Teenage Girl
Photo by Paige Worthy available under a Creative Commons license.
Monday, Nov. 7, 2011
Best student comment on "Sexting" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Comments must be posted by midnight Nov. 20.
Mary and her boyfriend of two years, both freshmen in college, have decided to continue dating even though they go to different universities. Unfortunately, after a couple of months apart, they have found it difficult to maintain the intimacy and passion they once shared.
In an attempt to improve the situation, her boyfriend has suggested they send naked pictures to one another. At first, Mary is a little offended that her boyfriend would make such a request; however, the more she considers it, the more she thinks it might be a good idea.
She’s over 18. She’s been dating the boy for a while. Why shouldn’t she?
Here are some resources:
A Framework for Ethical Decision Making
Room for Debate: What's Wrong With Adult Sexting? (New York Times)
Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.