Oregon State University

CS 391: Social and Ethical Issues in Computer Science

Oregon State University, College of Engineering

Chapter 2 ~ The Ethical

In this chapter we begin in earnest to analyze relationships among technology and society. You will explore and discuss how professionals tackle complex problems using rational examinations, ethical theories, and laws which govern information technology (IT).

You'll learn to use a few tools to help you evaluate sources of information in an effort to understand the difference between factual and fake news.

Then, you'll examine recent Facebook scandal(s) to gain more experience writing from a factual and critical perspective.

⬆ Shiftrefresh Shift-Refresh this page to see the most up-to-date instructions.

Explore Topics: Speech, Censorship, Cyberbullying, and Media Bias.

2.1 Explore Topics Introduction.

The relationships between our sources of news and what we think about the important issues those sources deliver to us can affect how we treat others related. Learn how in this introduction to fake news: Here’s How Fake News Works (and How the Internet Can Stop It)

The following activities will help you develop a better news-reading routine for your own edification as well as to improve your access to factual news for the purposes of this course.

2.2 Set up a news feed.

SmartNews tabs with three custom sources.

Using the SmartNews app on your phone, tablet, or Chromebook, you'll add trustworthy news sources to a news feed, which you can use to keep track of what's happening in the world of technology, as well as find relevant articles that support the writing for this and future projects.

  1. On your computer, tablet, or phone, search for the Smart News app using the Apple or Google Play store. Install the app.
  2. Scroll right through the tabs at the top to get to the gray navicon menu. Or, for iPhones, locate the Settings (gear ⚙) menu and Edit Channels.
  3. Remove all news categories from the list except for Technology. The red Top and blue Discover tabs will remain. Click the X or to get back to the tabs.
  4. Click on the Discover tab and search for and add AP, Reuters, and PolitiFact. to the list of sources. Deselect all other news sources.
  5. Scroll to the Technology section. You may need to click the Show all link.
  6. Add one or more of these magazines to your feed to help with future research: Fast Company, Wired, CNET, Engadget, Tech Insider, ZDNet, The Register, MIT Technology Review, PCMagazine.
  7. Scroll through the new tabs and compare the headline writing style of the red Top area with those of AP and Reuters. Do you notice their differences? Are some headlines more factual or less sensational than others? How many technology-related articles are provided on the AP and Reuters news feed? Nearly every day there is some important news about companies we rely on!
  8. Take a look at FastCompany's feed. You'll usually notice they are focused on ethical issues as well as new technologies.

2.3 Set up the Template and Reading List.

Use the following template link to complete this research and writing assignment.

  1. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  2. Launch this chapter's Explore Topics Template.
  3. Do not request permission to use the file. Login to your OSU Google Account.
  4. Once you have the file open:
    1. FileMake a copy.
    2. Rename the new file so it includes your "First and Last name" in place of "Template".
    3. Move the file into a folder for this course.
  5. Add your name to the cover page.
  6. Read instructions on the cover page. When in doubt about how to write in the templates, refer back to this page for clarification.
  7. Refer to the green instructions below each page to understand what is required.
  8. The last page requires a bibliography.
Reading List

Refer to writing instructions under each page of the template. Open articles in new tabs and add them to your bibliography tool.

2.4 Edit, download, and submit the file.

  1. Ctrlc or c Copy the bibliographic entries you made during the Explore Topics reading and research. On the last page of the template, Ctrlv or v paste in the bibliographic entries. Select the list and apply the bullet or numbered list icon. Update the font size to 14 if necessary. Add more pages if necessary.
  2. Check and correct grammar and spelling using the built-in functions.
  3. From the File menu, choose Download as PDF.
  4. Check to confirm that hyperlinks work in the new PDF file. If they do not work, then in the Assignment Commenting Box, leave a note stating which platform, operating system, and browser you used to print or download the PDF file.
  5. Copy of the file to a backup folder on your hard drive.
  6. Submit the PDF file by uploading it in the Canvas Assignment screen.
  7. Confirm that your file has uploaded by looking for the document icon in the Grades area.

Examine a Case Discussion: Facebook Scandal(s)

Examine a Facebook scandal(s). Write/discuss from a factual and critical perspective. Analyze the major player(s) in relation to an ethical theory. Counter another student's analysis with more research.

2.5 Performing Ethics = Rational Examination.

Looking at all aspects of a problem will help you, a company, or a government make rational decisions about what really happened, who is to blame, and what might fix the problem. A rational examination can include a review of who did what when, how, where, and why as well as a philosophical/analytical discussion backed up with ethical theories and approaches to allow the examiners to make determinations and decisions.

A rational examination typically includes these factors:

Who (Players) What When (Timeline) Where How (Technologies) Why Consequences Laws
  • Whistleblowers
  • Owners
  • Manager
  • Workers
  • Lawyers
  • Victims
  • Bad Actors
  • Legislators
  • By-standers
  • Problems
  • Dilemmas
  • Solutions
  • Actions
  • What happened when, where, and by whom?
  • Countries where the problem originated
  • Countries that are affected by the problem
  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Electric grid
  • Internet (wifi, cable, fiber)
  • Cellular network
  • Radio Waves
  • Satellite
  • Finances
  • Ignorance
  • Accidentally
  • Pressure
  • Obedience, duty
  • Loyalty
  • Greed
  • Power
  • Fear
  • Hate
  • As a joke
  • Vengeance
  • For recognition
  • negligence
  • Political
  • Poor Design
  • Non-action
  • Positive for some or for everyone?
  • Negative for some or for everyone?
  • What are they called and where can you read them?
  • What laws are missing?
  • What laws need to be updated?

If the ultimate goal of technology is to improve the Quality of Life, then humans need methods to help determine if improvements in the quality of life have occurred. An ethical discussion of technology refers to the improvement of its users, the company that ordered it, and the individual workers who made it.

Quality of life is often measured by looking at a person's physical wellbeing, material wellbeing, social wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, and development and activity. Learn more from Felce and Perry.

2.6 Ethical frameworks for computer science.

Computer Scientists who study morals and ethics have agreed upon common frameworks to help them analyze their decisions. Besides understanding the difference between the concept of "morals" and "ethics" understand the two main frameworks so that you, too, can use them in your arguments for future case discussions:

Scroll through all three sections and hover over concepts to learn their meanings. View Devising an Ethical Framework in a new tab.

The Trolley Problem demonstrates how tough it is to make decisions based on 'the greater good'. View The Greater Good - Mind Field S2 (Ep 1). (Note: this video may require YouTube Premium account to view.)

2.7 Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

During Facebook's reign as the most popular social media platform, they have made many mistakes, including sharing our personal data without consent, not disclosing security breaches, recording our faces, and perpetuating fake news.

For this discussion, you will focus on their relationship with Cambridge Analytica and how it influenced elections around the world.

If you have access to Netflix, watch their 2019 documentary The Great Hack. The movie clarifies very clearly who did what when, how, and why. Also, search recent news for updates to the scandal.

If you don't have access to Netflix, or you want to round out your understanding of Facebook, then start with the following sources:

2.8 Participate in the Group Discussion.

  1. Four days before the Due date, start writing in a word processing document to synthesize what you learned about Facebook Scandal(s). Use research, including what you find in the SmartNews feed, library journals, broadcast news, etc.
    • In paragraph 1, describe and cite one of the major players in the scandal. Who did what when, how, and why?
    • In paragraph 2, describe and cite the positive and negative consequences of that person's actions.
    • In paragraph 3, describe and cite one of the ethical theories or approaches and how it pertains that person's actions.
    • Check the word count (150+ per paragraph, not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Check the hyperlinks (they must be in article titles, law names, or theory/approach names).
    • Spellcheck, fix grammar, then Ctrlc or c to copy the paragraphs.
    • Click the Chapter 2 Examine a Case Discussion in Canvas.
    • Ctrlv or v to paste the copied text into a Reply thread (click the Reply field to activate the editing box).
    • Save your thread.
  2. Before the Due date, reply to at least one person in your group.
    • In paragraph 1, discuss a counter-argument related to their analysis of the case. Describe and cite an article that supports your argument.
    • Check the word count (150+ not counting the author names or article titles).
    • Save your thread.

Need Help?

Share a Google Slides file with the Instructor.

If you have questions about using the template, the research prompts, or writing conventions, you can share your file with the instructor.

  1. With your file, open, click the Sharing button at the top right of the screen.
  2. Change the settings so that only people at OSU can view the file.
  3. Copy the resulting URL/address.
    Right-click to change sharing settings.
    Change settings so that only OSU people can view. Copy the link.
  4. Paste the resulting URL into a Canvas Inbox message to the instructor (or if you have already submitted your file, provide it in the Assignment Commenting box).

Work offline without Wi-fi

If you will be out of wi-fi range, feel free to work on your files offline.

  1. Click the blue Docs icon (or orange Slides or green Sheets icon).
  2. Select the file(s) to use offline.
  3. Select the 3-dot More menu
  4. Toggle on the Available Until button.
  5. Look at the list of files to view the new Available Offline icon next to the file name.

Writing Tutors

Consult one or more of these resource for a review of the structure of your writing, grammar, and spelling. Provide the tutor with a link to the instructions as well as your project online.

NetTutor's Paper Center
Access online tutoring via Canvas. 48-hour turnaround.
OSU Online Writing Suite
Electronic feedback from home, asynchronous email consultation, or synchronous Skype consultation.
OSU Undergrad Research & Writing Studio
Drop in writing help with no wait times. Standard hours are:
Monday to Thursday → 10:00am to 10:00pm
Friday → 10:00am to 5:00pm, and
Sunday → 2:00pm to 7:00pm.
OSU Academic Integrity Tutorials
Citing sources and using TurnItIn.

Use the Service Desk if you have computer, ONID, or Canvas problems.

But first:

  1. Logout.
  2. Close the browser and relaunch it.
  3. Login to OSU.
  4. Still have problems? Contact Service Desk.

Criteria to meet by the end of chapter 2

Check Canvas Home, Assignments, and Calendar for the most current Due date and time. The Available Until date and time constitutes a grace period, which can be used in an emergency or if you are ill.

By the end of this chapter, these items must be included in the assignments to earn full points:

Explore Topics

  1. Free and Hate Speech, Censorship, and AI page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  2. Cyberbullying page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  3. Media Bias Chart page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  4. SmartNews Feed page includes enough detail and is properly cited.
  5. Illustration or movie explaining one of the required topics is included with a detailed description and is properly cited with a copyright statement.
  6. Bibliography page includes a list of references (7 or more expected).
  7. Writing is free of plagiarism.
  8. Writing is free of grammar and spelling errors.

Examine a Case Discussion

  1. Discussion thread describes and cites one of the major players in the scandal.
  2. Discussion thread describes the positive and negative consequences of the major player's actions.
  3. Discussion thread describes one of the ethical theories or approaches and how it pertains the mayer player's actions.
  4. Discussion includes a reply to another student's thread which counters their analysis and cites a supporting article.