Musically Impaired: How Apple’s U2 Release Broke the Wall of Trust

Guest Post by: Dan Reiner, student journalist

It was a fateful day in September 2014 when media conglomerate Apple decided to break through the wall between itself and its customers. This “wall” did not exist physically, but rather it represented the boundary between Apple customers and their property, and the company and how it controls its products. So when Apple secretly dropped an unwarranted free U2 album into the iTunes libraries of 500 million users around the world, people were not happy.

Apple didn’t break any laws by forcefully handing out the album (it’s not like any non-Apple employee has ever read the Terms and Conditions from beginning-to-end), but the company did break that metaphysical wall. Many subscribers were outraged by event because it was meant as a marketing ploy. Apple paid more than $100 million to U2, and the album’s release coincided with the release of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. So when users opened their iTunes to find that Apple had accessed their personal library.

It was a matter of privacy more than a kind gesture by Apple. To consider the severity of Apple’s marketing miscue, it’s best to contemplate the matter from both sides of the argument. Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance is the best way to ethically consider the matter because it refrains from placing bias on either side and deals directly with the social contract. The most important question to answer in this debate is whether or not Apple was ethically flawed in breaching the public libraries of 500 million people.

From Apple’s perspective, this was meant to celebrate not only a big technology launch, but also the 10th anniversary of U2’s “Vertigo” silhouette commercial with Apple. The band’s longstanding relationship with Apple has always been well documented, so it made sense for the two worldwide powers to team up.

ABCOn the other side of the argument, the consumer opens his or her iTunes to find an unwanted album, free of charge. Apple had never pulled a stunt like this before, so it was quite unexpected to the 500 million who received it. Apple may have thought U2’s worldwide popularity would lead to more downloads of the album, but only two million people downloaded the it to their cellphones. The public overwhelmingly rejected it, and the launch was a failure.

Content Before Care?

Guest Post by Claire Nowak, crafter of words

To report or not to report?

For journalists tasked with covering breaking news, the answer is obvious. Get the story, no matter what the cost.

Such dedication is a defining and often inspiring characteristic of the profession. Countless reporters willingly put themselves in harm’s way to gather and share vital information. Some give their lives to tell stories that would otherwise remain untold, as James Foley did covering war victims in the Middle East. To them, communication is more than a profession. It is a mission, a sacred duty to free the voices of their subjects and expose the public to their stories.

In upholding that duty, journalists can present a captivating story—at the expense of those voices they claim to liberate.

When news of the shooting at Umpqua Community College broke out, people around the country turned to social media for updates, including media professionals. One woman at the scene tweeted, “Students are running everywhere. Holy God.” Less than 5 minutes later, she was bombarded with replies from reporters asking for more details. Some prefaced the conversation with messages of (theoretically real) concern: “Are you okay?” or “Stay safe.” Others skipped formalities altogether: “Can you call me. I am with CNN. Follow me back.”

BlogSo-called “insensitive” reporters are not new. Consider the stereotypical image of a news anchor standing outside a burning building with a resident who has just lost everything and asking, “How do you feel?” Asking questions no one else will in order to bring new information and human reaction into a story is part of a journalist’s job. In this sense, Twitter is the perfect media platform for breaking news. It instantly gives reporters an exclusive scoop, a raw behind-the-scenes look at what’s really happening. But in a time when media organizations compete for the first post on breaking news, any chance of digital sympathy vanishes.

There is no problem in quickly finding sources for a story. The problem lies in neglecting care for the source for the sake of a story.

Journalists are forced to choose between competing loyalties—loyalty to their profession, and consequently the media consumers relying on their reporting for information, or loyalty to their sources as humans, who care, think, feel, and live as they do.

I am a journalist. I have been since I began reporting and publishing stories during my sophomore year of high school. But journalism is not the epicenter of my life. I am, first and foremost, a human being. If I cannot show compassion for my subjects or think of them as anything but a quote, I put my livelihood before life itself. A single story takes precedent over our humanity. Before long, there would be no one to read the stories I write. Accurate, up-to-date reporting is important, but is it worth the ethical integrity of our society?

That is the question.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Don’t Say It At All.

Guest Post by: Bianca Baltazar, a bit beyond bold blogger.

What happened to the idea of respect?

Let me begin by saying I have no desire to use Yik Yak nor have I ever. The only time I’ve ever heard about the app is in multiple classrooms where I have heard nothing positive about it. I do not use Yik Yak because I believe it is just a platform for individuals to post absurd comments without any consequences. Sure, maybe some people do not have the confidence to say their thoughts so Yik Yak gives them a place to do so. However, with all the negativity the surrounds the app, it is clear that being anonymous does not just give people confidence. It gives them a sense of entitlement in the most backwards way possible. Users feel entitled to state their opinion whether or not it affects an individual or a group of individuals. The sad thing, some of the posts can be so hurtful that those who are at the receiving end are overcome with a horrible feeling and there is nothing they can do about it. They feel helpless. It could be their “best friend” typing these horrible words about them but the person will never know. Targeting an individual is one thing but what happens when Yik Yak is used to reinforce stereotypes or further the discrimination against a specific group of people due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation? Nothing happens. That is the point. Those who post distasteful and degrading messages do not have to worry about anything because no one will ever find out who they are…or will they?

This leads me to the idea of privacy. Yik Yak is an app that was founded on the idea of anonymity. On Yik Yak’s website it states, “Share your thoughts with people around you while keeping your privacy.” Also, Yik Yak has said that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that their users stay anonymous. However, in Yik Yak’s Privacy Statement it states that there app requires a telephone number, geo-location data, domains, IP addresses, and that they save ALL the content users shares on the app including images. With that being said, Yik Yak is able to quickly pinpoint an individual who posts an immediate physical threat to others, which goes to show that users are not fully anonymous. It pains me that it takes an immediate physical threat for Yik Yak to intervene. It pains me that Yik Yak even exists.

Bianca

NEWS FLASH: The invisibility cloak isn’t actually real.