Privacy Double Standards: “Get Over It”

Guest Post: Ashley Wynstra, Media Commentator

As a society, we constantly critique celebrities because they’re public figures. They don’t get to complain about having their privacy invaded because that’s what they get for being rich and famous. We convince ourselves that it’s only fair to treat them as second-class citizens in the media because we simultaneously worship them in person. The same can be said for people we consider “scum.” People who have violated moral codes and societal rules aren’t seen as our equals when it comes to ethics. We don’t care about protecting the people who aren’t in the same class as us. When they have the audacity to complain about not having their privacy protected, we have one response:

“Get over it.”

If you Google the Ashley Madison hack, the top searches discuss which public figures were involved, the aftermath of the revelation of users, and details about the security breach. There’s no mention about the invasion of privacy. Why?

“Get over it.”


Source: Static Flickr

Imagine waking up one morning and finding 100+ Facebook notifications. Your name is trending on Twitter and you’ve made national headlines. Your personal life is now under intense scrutiny and when you try to speak up to protect your privacy, you’re met with three words.

“Get over it.”

The intentions of the website Ashley Madison is another issue in and of itself. You might disagree with its purpose, but you can’t deny that rights were violated. Several individuals who lost their privacy killed themselves. Others were blackmailed. One town lost its mayor. These individuals made life choices that the majority of society disagrees with, and now they’re no longer considered part of the community, so we don’t protect them. There’s a double standard.

“Get over it.”

People were furious when the FBI asked Apple to unlock a terrorist’s cell phone because it might threaten the privacy of everyone else in the future. But how do we respond to the violation of privacy that we so strongly protect for ourselves when it doesn’t involve us?

“Get over it.”

We have a responsibility to protect everyone’s rights, regardless of their personal life choices. Those life choices never should have been revealed to begin with. As a community, we are not better off knowing who joined a website that encouraged affairs.

“Get over it.”


Pick a Side. Any Side

Guest Post: Olivia Bohringer, Student of the World

Political parties, gender roles, majors in college, personality quizzes, cultural backgrounds, generational differences, religious identify, fashion choices: decisions we make as frequently as every day or as rarely as once in lifetime, each choice asks us to pick a side. Choose a loyalty. What do you stand for? What will you fall for?


Source: Discovery Magazine, April 2014

Media professionals have an exceptional obligation to loyalties. On one hand, we go into the Deep Dark World of Media to advocate for the underdogs and to touch the most human part of our audiences. But we also sign up to be journalists, agency junkies, copywriters, producers, and communications people to bring in a paycheck. We sit in classes and learn how to work through ethical dilemmas and where to look for inspiration once we enter the real world, and we flip through textbooks and autobiographies looking for answers on how we’ll define our values. But the world of communications and media also asks us to define the values of our audiences and/or industries. A profound responsibility comes with the work in this field, being held accountable to our own set of personal ethics, to codes of action in our industries, and to our audiences.

Loyalty is often reduced to being told to pick a side. But what happens when there’s no clear line in the sand drawn? In a world of political correctness, it is often easy to proudly identify your allegiance to one side with one foot still firmly planted with the opposition. We can talk the talk, but the challenge comes with walking the walk. It’s easy to nod along when you’re in a crowd of many, but the challenge comes when the popular opinion does correspond with your own.

To ask the average student or professional to define his or her loyalties will not necessarily outline clear moral codes. It’s not easy to think about the values you’re devoted to nor the ones that you outright condemn. Perhaps it’s easy to frame loyalties as motivations; what is it that drives you? What gets you up in the morning? What do you find rewarding, and just as importantly, what is discouraging to you? Loyalty has a variety of definitions, but to identify your own, think about the decisions that you are most proud of. Think also about decisions you’ve regretted; sometimes a loyalty can’t be defined until it’s been betrayed.

Ever-shifting and ever-challenging, loyalty shapes every action we take, both personally and professionally. To understand one’s own loyalties is to understand your deepest ethos, your motivations, your most personal drivers. Loyalties reflect our upbringings and our innate values, and they grow to reflect our changing experiences; we can look at our priorities and our passions to find what drives us and calls us to action. The challenge lies in deciding which of these loyalties speak loudest, and if they speak loud enough to pick a side.

Thoughts on the University of Missouri

Guest post by: Cameron Harris, Articulate Cultural Enthusiast

When I first heard about racial tensions rising on the campus of University of Missouri, my first response was well of course you’re in Missouri. After getting by that I began to read more into the story about life for minority students on the campus. I must say they don’t sound different from my experience at Marquette or the experiences of other minority students at predominately white institutions. Things happen on a day-to-day basis sometimes subtle, sometimes overt but the point is people’s complaints go largely ignored because they make up such a small percent of the university’s population. My roommates (also minorities) and I often discuss whether it is it an institution’s job to please less than 10 percent of the population and even sometimes smaller than that.? According to Mill’s utilitarianism it is supposed to be the greatest good for the greatest number of people, therefore predominately white institutions should be catering to that demographic. I think where Mill misses the mark is in regards to how two students with the same major, living on the same campus will have completely different experiences based on the color of their skin. The person of color is probably more likely to have bad things to say about their experience.

Whenever I read articles that speak to race specifically on a college campus it strikes a chord with me. I wasn’t angered when reading this story but rather happy that things like this have woven their way into public discourse and things began to change rather rapidly. So many times peoples’ cries for help go unheard. I also question the role of economics in Wolfe’s decision to resign because it came the day after the football team said they would not play. Something tells me he was told to step down because the school needed those players to play. In any case he did step down and things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 10.39.35 PMNow I do not know if anything will change at the University of Missouri because we live in a segregated society. When I arrived at Marquette University I was told by someone who lived on the floor that I was the first black person that they had ever had a conversation with. This pointed out to me that Universities are given the tough task of bringing together thousands of people with different backgrounds to come together and function. This of course does not excuse prejudice at all, but what do people expect to happen? A college campus is going to reflect the society that it resides in and that is a place that has a history filled with racism, prejudice and hate.

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.

Loyalty: A Vital Ethical Concept in the Creation and Consumption of Media

Guest Post by: Ashley Argall, student

As a second semester senior at Marquette, I have successfully completed two philosophy classes during my time here. However, until a week ago, I had never heard of the philosophical concept of Loyalty. For that reason alone, I am glad I have made it through the first two weeks of my Media Ethics class this semester.

Loyalty, in the context of ethics, is the idea that every time a person makes a decision in life, he or she is essentially answering the question: “To whom or to what will I be loyal?”

There are, truly, thousands of ways to exemplify this concept, because it applies to every single decision we make every day – from small things, like, “Will I brush my teeth this morning?” to bigger things, like, “Which job offer will I accept?”

In the first example, if I decide to go ahead brush my teeth in the morning, I have decided to be loyal to my health, my dentist, the people with which I will talk that day (so I don’t bombard them with bad breath), etc. If the answer is no, I may have decided to be loyal to sleeping in 2 minutes longer, getting to class on time, or saving water.

When it comes to making ethical decisions, the concept of loyalty plays an even bigger, and oftentimes more complicated, role. In the world of communications, ethical decisions are a constant occurrence. These decisions do not come without consequence. Journalists, advertisers, and public relations professionals have an incredible amount of influence over the values and beliefs of the society in which they work. Therefore, ethical decisions made within the realm of mass communications are powerful.

DecisionsI truly believe that anyone considering a job in mass communications should be aware of the ethical concept of Loyalty. If all communications professionals understood that every time they and their coworkers made decisions, they were being loyal to one thing over another, they could become more attuned to actions within their company that may be stemming from unethical motives. As stated previously, when a mass communications organization is driven by unethical loyalties, the consequence is a negative effect on society as a whole.

Here’s an example to illustrate. A journalist who is unaware of the concept of Loyalty will not have thought consciously ahead of time about where he believes his loyalties as a journalist should lie. One example of a good loyalty for a journalist to have is a loyalty to society as a whole by creating balanced, accurate stories. If the journalist had not consciously established this loyalty to balanced reporting for himself ahead of time, he could easily become wrapped up in creating a story that simply attracts the most attention. In other words, his loyalty in that situation would unknowingly lean more toward his own personal success and profit, as opposed to creating a news story that is most beneficial for society. Had he been able to consciously see where to which causes his actions were being loyal in that situation, he may have reported his story differently…. and in an arguably better way.

Communications professionals are not the only ones who need to understand the concept of Loyalty. It is also an extremely important concept for media consumers (i.e. everyone) to understand. Media consumers who have a solid idea of where media outlets’ loyalties potentially could lie will have a better ability to analyze the media messages coming at them and detect ones that may be unethically motivated.

Educated media creators and media consumers are both vital to the formation of an ethically sound society.

Volkswagen: A Globally Responsible Company

Guest Post by: Katie Gibbons: Marquette University, Corporate Communication Major, Public Relations Minor

When thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR what companies come to mind? The obvious answer is to think of an American company because we hear so much about what company is doing what to give back to the community. However, many companies based in other countries also have CSR initiatives that are worth noting. A great example of this is Volkswagen in Germany, which focuses on sustainability initiatives. Volkswagen does not only have CSR initiatives in Germany, but has other CSR plans in other countries, such as a major environmental initiative in China.

What is CSR, anyway?

Corporate social responsibility is how a company gives back to a community in some way to someone in need. This can include anything from helping a nation in need of clean water to education. Often, CSR initiatives have some type of relation to the company. Companies try to relate CRS initiatives to some aspect of the company. If a company is criticized for having products that negatively effect the environment, then the CSR initiative can include an aspect of environmental efforts and sustainability to make things right.

CSR at Home

Volkswagen’s headquarters are in Wolfsburg, Germany. One of Volkswagen’s initiatives involves recycling old cell phones for a cause—to restore Lower Havel river valley, which is home to many different types of endangered species of plants and animals. It is important for brands like this to take pride in the home country and help solve a problem. Often, large companies establish CSR initiatives in its own country first to help out on a local scale. Over 3,000 phones were donated, so this was considered a success, and many people were also educated on how to properly dispose of their phones in addition to helping restore the river valley.

Environmental Education in China

Volkswagen does not stop in Germany. Volkswagen has partnered with the Chinese Center of Environmental Education and Communication and the Green Future Environmental Education Initiative (GFEEI). This CSR initiative includes environmental education for Chinese students. Volkswagen’s project partner NAJU gives hands on training sessions to teachers and educates students. The initiative has been deemed successful and has educated about 20,000 Chinese students in 30 different schools in 19 provinces between 2007-2011, and the initiative continues. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 5.53.02 PMDoes Volkswagen exhibit global CSR?

Volkswagen definitely exhibits global corporate social responsibility. Of course companies want to focus on the country that it is headquartered in, but Volkswagen goes beyond this. Instead of just focusing on Germany, Volkswagen looks at what needs to be done elsewhere. They are giving back to a community that is in need of environmental education. China is affected by growing urbanization causing the need to better the environment. Education on this topic is so important because this initiative is not just planting trees, which would be a short-term fix. Education on the topic has a deeper effect because it teaches people how to change habits. Now 20,000 Chinese children have the power to change their habits and have knowledge on how to be more environmentally friendly. Leaders at Volkswagen realize the negative effects that their cars have on the environment. Since China is so heavily populated, Volkswagen realizes the negative aspects of this and that the car pollution can cause bigger problems in China than in some other areas.

“Responsibility Knows No Boundaries”

As the image above from the Volkswagen Group states, responsibility has no boundaries for this company. Just because it is a German company does not mean that it cannot help others in need. This is a powerful statement for Volkswagen to live by and shows its dedication to global responsibility. Volkswagen does not discriminate based on country lines. Volkswagen is willing to support sustainability efforts across boundaries.

Corporate Social Responsibility & Kinder Bueno

Guest Post by: Claire Kelly

While studying abroad in Italy last spring, I learned a lot outside of the classroom. I also enjoyed exploring the different corners of Italy and all of the culture that came with it. One treat that my roommates and I in Rome enjoyed far too often, were Kinder products. It was a chocolate candy that came in many varieties and was placed in the impulse section of the grocery store. These treats became our favorite desert throughout the semester, next to gelato of course. Throughout our travels in Europe we continued to see Kinder in every grocery store we came across. We found them in Budapest, Hungry; Barcelona, Spain; Brussels, Belgium and many other cities. Kinder was a product I had never been exposed to before living in Europe. Little did I know, the company has quite a story.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 5.49.37 PM

Kinder products fall under a company called Ferrero. Ferrero has been an Italian family business, passed down generation to generation since the 1940’s. The company is currently run by Giovanni Ferrero. Giovanni’s grandfather, Michael Fererro was the founder and the first Italian manufacturer to open confectionary stores, sites and offices abroad after World War II. This was a monumental start for the company. Ferrero products include Kinder Bueno, Kinder Pingui, Nutella, Ferrero Rocher, Tic Tacs and Raffaelo. The products reach countries all throughout Europe, America, Asia and have made their way to Australia and New Zealand. In the Mission statement on their website, Ferrero states that they strive to be “glocal”, to at globally but think locally. The Ferrero group credits being “glocal” to their international success.

Corporate Social Responsibility is the responsibility that every company has to contribute to society in a healthy and positive way. Whether a company works to be sustainable, environmentally friendly, or contribute to another cause, bettering society is the main goal. The Ferrero group motto for Corporate Social Responsibility is “Sharing Values, to Create Value”. They laid out a plan for being socially responsible for the coming years 2013-2020.

Ferrero divides their goals for Corporate Social Responsibility into several categories:

  • For Human Rights
  • For The Environment
  • For Raw Materials
  • For a Healthy Lifestyle

Within the context of each category, they outline how they plan to better the world through these outlets in association with their products and company. I’ll provide an example of an action that falls under each category. The rest of the plans can be found online. For Human Rights, The Ferrero group created an organization called Ferrero Foundation of Alba. This organization was designed to embrace the human condition and increase the importance of social life after retirement. This program offers assistance socially and health wise to former employees. The goal in this outline was to extend and enhance the program further. For the Environment, they made it a goal to use 20% less water consumption per unit of a product and work to use packaging from renewable sources before 2020. For Raw Materials, Ferrero is striving to make 100% cocoa, 100% coffee and 100% cane sugar is certifiably sustainable. For a Healthy Lifestyle, the company wants to continue, achieve and extend their program Kinder + Sports, encouraging activity along with products on the sweeter side.

The Ferrero Group motto “Sharing Values, to Create Value” is a great way to explain what Corporate Social Responsibility is. Ferrero is looking at weaknesses in society and finding ways that they, as a successful company, can contribute to the cause. Having positive thoughts behind actions, makes a company stand out amongst companies more focused on money than on their impact. The Ferrero group takes their Corporate Social Responsibility seriously; as they succeed as a company they are striving to better society.