Charles Fornaciara, Ph.D joins us from Florida Gulf Coast University for this afternoon’s topic on modern professional ethics.

What do we mean when we refer to Web 2.0 technology? Wikipedia says that this media promotes interactivity and sharing of information on the web. How is this different from traditional media?
1. It’s interactive – traditional media was a one-way communication. This allows everyone to become part of the message.
2. Unstructured environment
3. The communication flow is uncontrolled
4. Always occurs in real time, all the time
5. Web 2.0 is all about the end user

Fornaciara asks us several questions that get our brains churning – when does technology cross the line?

Facebook and Beacon – in November 2008, Facebook announced a new service called Beacon. Facebook members who took actions at Web sites of Facebook partners would have related information posted to their page. Users would have to explicitly prevent this action from happening on the partner sites. This produced an extremely negative reaction – 14,000 Facebook users posted a petition against the partnership. Facebook finally agreed to let users opt out of this service as a result.

Google’s GMail ad words technology – Google opened GMail to invited users, but did not tell anyone that a program would be looking at the e-mails people were sending to find keywords that matched ad content. Matched ads would appear on the screens of target users. Using GMail is a voluntary activity, and ad words are still being used frequently.

Fornaciari offers suggestions to combat potential Web 2.0 ethical nightmares:
-Develop a list of guidelines and stick to them.
-Slow down and think before implementing. Consider potential problems and work through the scenarios.
-Be careful and aware of permissions and privacy acts.
-An organization must truly listen to its audience, instead of reverting to the traditional one-way broadcast communication.

Thanks to Dr. Fornaciari for a thought-invoking presentation!