Saturday, May 3, 2014

Reddit officially moves to mobile

For years, Reddit users have been wondering why the site hasn’t created an official app yet. Questions of this nature were posted often on the site and were met with answers from Reddit’s developers such as these:
via Cult of Android

“Our reasoning is that instead of putting time and effort into our own app, we'd rather work on providing an environment that enables other awesome app developers to build apps. Can't say that won't change in the future, but it has been our guiding principle over the past few years.” According to Alienth, a Reddit admin.

Even without an official app, IOS and Android users weren’t without an abundance of ways to browse Reddit. IOS users used Alien Blue and Android users used reddit is fun or BaconReader. Reddit also has a compact mobile website, which has a slightly app-like feel and functionality.

In 2011, Reddit did unsuccessfully launch an official app for the IOS platform called iReddit, which was quickly overtaken by in popularity by Alien Blue. But after years of waiting, on Wednesday Reddit users finally got the news they were waiting for--Reddit is trying again. And this time, it’s going mobile with an official app that’s being built for both Android and IOS platforms.

So why did it take so long for Reddit to make the switch to an official app? It’s possible the real answer is that Reddit finally realized the value in mobile--and they want in the game.

Native app use in the last 6 years, especially in 2014, has skyrocketed in popularity above mobile web browsing, as users are spending more time on their mobile devices. They’re also using apps thanks to the creation of games and the popularity of social media apps such as Facebook. A whopping 86 percent of users are now spending more time with native apps than 14 percent of users who prefer mobile web browsing.

via Flurry
One reason for the switch is the ever-lowering price of smart phones. Not everyone has access to a computer or a tablet. The affordability and access to smart phones allow for continued growth. Another reason is that everyone carries their phone with them, so they’re always conveniently available whenever a user needs access.

With mobile, Reddit could evolve from just an aggregated news site to to a true social networking community. Just like with other social sites users with mobile can post and photos updates on the go. Reddit touts itself as being the “first page of the Internet” and with mobile, users can post more frequently and during breaking news events.

So could Reddit have survived as a web-only platform? In the long-term, it’s not likely. It’s clear that native apps have won in popularity and now companies have to adjust to this trend or suffer the consequences of losing audience share.

This was originally posted at the Eagle Strategies blog.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What I learned from ethics class

My ethics (#untj4470) class exposed me to many new ways of thinking in order to solve ethical problems in both my daily life and in my professional career. I have learned ethical theories to base possible decisions in our future jobs and how those decisions can impact other people.

We covered social media ethics as well and since I took the social media class this semester as well, this class complemented the other. I learned about endorsements, privacy and disclosure online, and “flogging.” I didn’t know that advertisers have a code of ethics. It makes sense that they do, of course if they want to remain as honest and credible sources for information. Probably one of the quickest ways to cause major harm to a brand or company is by being dishonest when there is a problem. 

I anticipate on using the knowledge gained by this class in my career in a positive and ethical way. The ethical theories are new ways of thinking that will help find balance between the needs of a company and individuals so I can act in the best interest of who I am dealing with while considering all viewpoints and bringing about minimal harm. If I come across unethical practices or practices that violate codes of ethics in my workplace I would make recommendations on how the company or individual could correct their actions and I would strive to act ethically on a personal level as well.
I had many “oh, wow” moments this semester and I have learned a lot. Throughout the semester I was my mind was constantly blown at how many companies and individuals acted so clearly unethically or how their reactions led to disastrous results. I learned how difficult it seems for some companies to act ethically and that advertising speech is regulated by the FTC. I also learned that the word “privacy” isn’t in the constitution and the free speech protection first amendment provides don’t guarantee total freedom. While researching a blog post, I was also surprised to find that political speech has few restrictions against it compared to commercial speech.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Relationships in the Age of Social Media

Move over, OkCupid and eHarmony. There’s a new way people are meeting and sparking up romances online and it’s through sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Dating and marriage has changed dramatically with the widespread adoption of the Internet and creation of social media sites. Today, more than one-third of marriages in America begin online, according to a 2013 study sponsored by eHarmony. The increasing popularity of social media sites has led to a multitude of new uses -- more specifically by providing the tools and the ability to find your potential soulmate. Regardless if you’re single and looking for “the one,” or if you’re in an existing relationship, one question remains to be answered: are these sites helping or harming your love life?

Social media sites provide communication channels that strengthen romantic relationships due to one of its most inherent features: the ability to share. As a result, helps foster open communication and build trust between couples. For some couples, being “Facebook official” isn’t enough as 11 percent of “partnered or married adults who use social networking sites share a social media profile.” Some couples feel closer to each other when they share profiles and having joint profiles can remove feelings of suspicion and insecurity.

The ability to share even helps individuals in relationships, as people who post profile pictures of themselves and their partners feel more satisfied with their relationships and closer to their partner than those who did not. And when people felt more satisfied in their relationship, they are also more likely to share relationship-relevant information on Facebook. And like with offline communication, when people talk to their partners online, they are likely to feel closer to them.

It turns out that happy couples aren’t just sharing profiles and information about their relationships. Just over two-thirds of couples that are married or in a committed relationship “have shared the password to one or more of their online accounts with their spouse or partner.” Forget the old tradition of exchanging vows and rings, today the act of exchanging social media passwords with your partner demonstrates a symbol of trust and commitment in a new way.

Today, more people are finding the love of their life through social media sites and in some countries, Facebook has replaced the use of online dating sites. A study conducted between 2005 and 2012 found that nearly 7% of Americans who were married met on social networking sites. Also during that time, more individuals met online than any single offline location, such as school or work. While some may be skeptical of online and social media dating, couples who meet through social media are “more likely to be satisfied with their marriages than those who [meet] in traditional offline ways, such as through friends.” They are also no more likely to get separated or divorced and are just as likely to experience equal or greater marital satisfaction.

via PaulMichaelHughes
There are many advantages through finding a potential partner on social media sites. This rise in popularity is attributed to low-risk dating factors, such as the ability to create free profiles and the ability to meet new people outside of your community or network. The ease of online interaction can later help make in-person meetings less awkward. It seems that people in the Internet age, people are increasingly becoming just as comfortable talking to each other online or through text messages as they are with face-to-face communication. This makes social sites a valuable tool that can help you get to know someone better online and can later help serve as an icebreaker when meeting in person for the first time.

The popularity of dating online and through social media has transferred to mobile. New apps have been created for people looking for love to meet, connect with potential partners and even provide a way for couples to grow their relationships. Many are going as far as integrating popular social media sites into the app’s functionality. Tinder is a new mobile dating app that uses Facebook profiles to find and match the compatibility of users based on their geographic location, common interests and mutual friends.

Other apps, such as 2Life are designed to nurture and grow relationships by keeping couples connected. The app enables people to chat, share, and collaborate with their partners on a private level. It also allows the sharing of journal posts, calendar events, photos, links and more privately between only two people. It also allows couples to plan dates with the ‘date night’ feature, which uses Yelp to help couples find the perfect place.

While social media sites have been shown to build existing romantic relationships and bring potential partners together, there are downsides to the platform that are not positive factors in dating and relationship building. One study found that 8 percent “of Internet users in a committed relationship have had an argument with their spouse or partner about the amount of time one of them was spending online and 4 percent “have gotten upset at something that they found out their spouse or partner was doing online.”

Social media platforms such as Twitter were created to help build relationships yet ironically, using Twitter might spell trouble for a user’s real-life relationships. A recent study from the University of Missouri School of Journalism showed that Twitter-related conflict leads to negative relationship outcomes, including emotional and physical cheating, breakup and divorce.

The results were found to be similar for Facebook users when compared to an earlier study by the same author. That study found Facebook-related conflict and negative relationship outcomes were greater among couples in couples that had been together for less than 3 years. The good news is that for couples together longer than 3 years, Facebook is not a concern because they “may not use Facebook as often, or may have more matured relationships.”

However, on Twitter, the same outcomes occurred regardless of how long the couples were together. For married couples, increasing use of social media resulted in no greater relationship satisfaction and even led to decreased marital satisfaction.

If social media was created to bring people together, then why is it splitting couples apart? One reason may be that people are more likely to monitor their partner’s online profiles. One partner might become suspicious and feel that the other is hiding something. This can lead to feelings of jealousy, arguments, or emotional and physical infidelity, especially if one partner reconnects with an ex on a social media site. For couples in new relationships, it is probably best to limit social media use to avoid conflicts while they are still learning about each other.

Overall, it appears that the findings are mixed on whether social media hurts or helps romantic relationships. What is clear is that the invention of these sites have created new avenues for finding love and fostering the growth of existing romances like never before. And if one day you happen to find yourself in a relationship due to one of these sites, don’t forget to make it “Facebook official.”

This was originally posted to the EagleStrategies blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Commercial speech, Political Speech and the First Amendment

Arguably the most important amendment in the U.S. Constitution is the First, which grants protections involving freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, among others. However, the First Amendment talks in broad terms and the freedoms protected aren’t absolute. The Supreme Court has ruled exemptions from these freedoms in past cases.

Image via BecomingMinimalist
Two types of speech that have been scrutinized in Supreme Court cases are commercial speech and political speech. These forms of speech are handled very differently in their protections and restrictions. 

The Supreme Court defines commercial speech as speech that "proposes a commercial transaction." Advertising is considered to be commercial speech, since it promotes the selling of goods or services with the intent of making a profit. 

According to the Central Hudson Test, the First Amendment only protects commercial speech as long as the advertising is not false, misleading or illegal. Therefore, federal laws and regulating government bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) exist to protect consumers from advertising that is false or deceptive. 

Earlier this year, Nissan settled a deceptive advertising case with the FTC after Nissan ran an ad in 2011 for its Frontier pickup truck. The ad showed the truck driving up a steep dune to push a buggy that was stuck in the sand. The FTC ruled that the advertiser misrepresented what the product was capable of doing. According to the Institute for Advertising Ethics, advertisers must exercise truth and transparency in their messages. 

If a consumer tried testing the scenario in Nissan’s ad and it resulted in injury or death, Nissan would be held liable. Companies must abide by “truth-in-advertising” laws and the FTC holds that it’s not right to sell a product based on deceptive tactics. This principle leads to the topic of political speech, which varies drastically in protections and regulations compared to commercial speech.

Political speech is considered to be any message that is intended to build up public interest or support for an issue, cause, position, or candidate. Ironically, while commercial advertising must not be false or misleading this does not apply to political advertising, which is rarely limited by the government and is granted full protection under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has “suggested little or no ban on political speech, even if false, would be found constitutional.” As a result, some states have acted on their own by passing laws that ban false campaign materials.

Commercial advertising is used with the intention of providing information to consumers, which protects them by contributing to informed decision-making. In this sense, there is a lack of consumer protection involving the exposure of political advertising messages. Politicians can say almost anything, including untrue things during the course of a campaign. This is because politicians are “public figures” and targets of false ads rarely sue due to libel laws that make it practically impossible for candidates to collect damages, even if they could win. Consequently, heavily distorted information is free to flow from political campaigns, leaving voters to their own devices when determining what information in political messages is true or false. 

The problem is that if commercial advertising is to be regulated in order to allow consumers to make informed decisions, shouldn’t political advertising be regulated as well? Political messages are tactical and selective in their wording as they use actors, truncate quotes and video clips, use statements out of context, make unsubstantiated claims, and play on emotions without providing solutions to real issues. 

According to the FTC, it is not permissible to use puffery or deceptive practices in order for companies to sell commercial goods, yet the Supreme Court holds that it is permissible for political advertisers to use deceptive tactics and exaggerated claims when selling political “goods” in the form of ideas. This creates problems with the country’s democratic electoral process by creating misled, uninformed or apathetic voters. 

Thanks to the loopholes and protections under the First Amendment, politicians and outside groups are allowed to make questionably valid claims. A 2012 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that campaign attack ads from outside groups are about 85 percent false. The IRS classifies these outside groups as 501(c)(4) organizations, which are meant to “promote social welfare to benefit the community.” Due to their status, they are not required to disclose their donors. 

There are countless examples of unsubstantiated political advertising claims from political parties and advocacy groups. A recent example involved Americans For Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group that spent $400,000 on a TV ad attacking U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for his position on a potential carbon tax during his senate race this year.

While the ad had multiple claims, one was that Begich pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to make carbon tax a priority, presenting lines from a letter written to Reid in 2010 from Begich and other Democratic senators. Americans For Prosperity focused on one line of the letter to support their position: "We believe the scale of this challenge dictates the need for a comprehensive solution that includes making polluters pay through a price on greenhouse gas emissions."

Begich claims that he doesn’t support a carbon tax and Politifact determined the ad’s claims were mostly false. While this isn’t the most deceptive or scandalous case, the ad shows just how easily words can be omitted, manipulated or taken out of context in order to shape messages that progress the agenda of any political candidate or advocacy group, due to the free speech protections they benefit from.

Political advertising also affects broadcasters. If the advertisement comes directly from a political candidate, the broadcaster cannot censor the ad and must run it as is, regardless if there is falsehood in the message. In turn, the broadcaster is not liable for the content of a candidate’s ad. Advertising that comes from third-party groups can be accepted or rejected by broadcasters, but they are rarely rejected, which results in “just as many outrageous claims about candidates in third party ads as we see in the candidate ads that can’t be censored.” 

Like commercial advertisements, political advertisements also contribute to the “marketplace of ideas” in which the value of some information is vital to an individual, culture, religion or society, while other information is not so important. It is ultimately up to the audience to determine the value of the information presented to them. Diverse viewpoints can be taken into consideration, which is why the First Amendment is so important. 

While the messages presented in political ads may not have value to some, others see benefit due to the Supreme Court, which upholds the idea that unregulated political speech is vital to the proper functioning of society, democracy and the political process.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Are social media sites valid news sources?

Where do you get your news from these days? By reading the newspaper? Watching TV? Logging on to social media sites?

Image via Social Media Today
The way we get news is changing and if you’re under 30, you likely get most of your news from sites like Facebook, as many users are turning away from traditional outlets for obtaining news, such as television and newspapers.

These days, one-third of young adults under 30 get news from social networks, while “34 percent watch TV news and just 13 percent read print or digital newspaper content,” according to a 2012 Pew Research survey. Roughly two-thirds (64 percent) of U.S. adults use Facebook and half of the site’s users get news there. This accounts for about 30 percent of the general U.S. population, according to a 2013 Pew Research study. Half of Twitter’s users also get news on the site while other social networking sites like Reddit are also driving the demand for news, with 62 percent of users getting updates there.

With the explosion of social media sites, we are connected to the world with immediate news access 24/7. When breaking news happens, we often get updates from our mobile phones and flock to sites such as Facebook or Twitter for more information. Clearly, social media is altering the landscape for how we get our news. However, one question remains: can social media sites be trusted as valid news sources?

The immediate nature of social media sites such as Twitter allows for journalists to rapidly break news minutes after it happens. However, fast news isn’t always accurate. Nearly 50 percent of news consumers have received “breaking news” via social media, only to find out later it was erroneously reported. One recent case involved CNN in April 2013, after the Boston Bombing. Citing anonymous sources, CNN rushed to break the news and as a result made the erroneous mistake of reporting that a “dark-skinned male” suspect had been identified and arrested.

In the Internet age, the demand from the public for details on breaking news stories puts pressure on news outlets. The Society for Professional Journalists code of Ethics states to “seek the truth and report it.” However, in the rush to publish breaking news stories on social media, seeking the truth first sometimes falls to the wayside. Therefore, the ultimate dilemma facing reporters is the speed with which stories are broke versus the accuracy of the story being reported on. Therefore, while journalists must report breaking news as quickly as possible, they must also exercise caution in dealing with sources for news as well as moving rapidly to correct errors in reporting.

Ultimately, the main problem isn’t the social media site itself--it’s the news being reported. Social media can be a reliable tool for news, even breaking news. When a major news event happens, people turn to social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post photos, updates, information and have discussions, which form a diverse and collective pool of sources and information from around the world. With this vast supply of sources, it becomes easier to debunk false information about a story as well as providing an avenue to obtain new information.

There are also advantages to the immediacy of breaking news stories on social media. As quickly as information is posted online, errors can just as quickly be corrected when facts are confirmed. A large number of people on sites such as Reddit and Twitter provide platforms for crowd-sourced fact checking, such as when Redditors fact-checked fake Wikipedia entries, debunking one hoax in just over an hour. This means with more people fact checking, there is a greater chance for fewer mistakes. 

Users are also able to get all their news in one place. Gone are the days of TV channel hopping for news. Now, you can follow a diverse array of news outlets such as cable news networks, traditional news sources, independent news, “citizen” journalists and more, commercial-free.

Social media is also changing the way journalists find news stories. Reporters turn to social sites such as Reddit to find story leads. In addition to being a platform for discovering leads for stories and crowd-sourced fact checking, Reddit may also be changing the way people “get” their news. In February, the site announced that it is beta testing a new “live reporting” feature that allows users to create and update live blogs about breaking news events such as the uprising in Ukraine or the war in Syria. 

Although users of social media sites have contributed to the spread of hoaxes and erroneous news in the past, the overall contributions these sites have made to the news world have positively strengthened the news-reporting process, demonstrating that journalism can be even better when more people are involved.

This was originally posted to the Eagle Strategies blog.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

How police are embracing social media as a crime-fighting tool

With the widespread popularity of social media, it’s becoming too easy to leave evidence of where we’ve been and what we do all over the Internet–and sometimes, that information can come back to haunt us.

As of September 2013, 73 percent of online adults use social networking sites of some kind. Individuals increasingly seem to be becoming more comfortable about posting details about their private lives that are broadcasted online for the world to see. This can mean bad news for those who break the law, as police departments around the world are increasingly turning to Facebook and other social media sites to catch criminal offenders.

Image via
A 2012 survey of 1,200 Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Professionals found that four out of five agencies said they use social media for investigations and that 67 percent believe social media helps solve crimes more quickly. The survey also found that Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social networks for law enforcement use.

Police are using YouTube to spread surveillance videos and authorities can even use Twitter to help them predict crime rates. In Pennsylvania, one police department used Pinterest to create a gallery of mugshots, which led to a 57 percent increase in arrests.

Sometimes, police don’t have to look hard on social media sites to catch criminals. One burglar in Florida who broke into a car dealership dropped his license on the floor of the dealership, then posted a photo on Facebook of him holding one of the car keys he had just stolen. In Pennsylvania, another man shared a wanted photo of himself on Facebook and taunted police for not being able to find him. Authorities arrested him less than two hours later.

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Facebook is just one site that many law enforcement officials are using to gather evidence in order to solve crimes. Sharing posts on Facebook is just one way police can spread information about offenders. Police look at public information supplied on the site and sometimes create fake online identities to befriend suspects and view their private information. They can also request “private information directly from social networks with subpoenas or warrants, or make an emergency request for user information if they think there's an imminent threat of danger.”

Although there has been an increase in public online information, police might not always be resorting to correct practices in order to catch criminals on social media. Last year, the Justice Department released a social media guide that “explicitly tells officers to create fake Facebook profiles,” even though Facebook bans the practice.

In 2012, Facebook bought, an Israeli startup company that had developed accurate facial recognition software in photos that were uploaded from online and mobile applications. Now, Facebook researchers are working on facial recognition software called DeepFace.

Facebook’s DeepFace algorithms can detect faces in photos with up to 97.25% accuracy, regardless of lighting conditions or angles, making the facial recognition software as nearly accurate as a human’s.

DeepFace technology uses artificial intelligence known as “deep learning” The AI software uses networks of simulated neurons to learn to recognize patterns in large amounts of data. It works by using a 3D model of an average human being, in which the software positions the face to look forward. Then, it creates a simulated neural network to work out a numerical description of the face to determine if it is similar to another from a different image.

Eventually, Facebook plans to use DeepFace to better identify faces for people to tag in the photos you upload to the site. DeepFace algorithms have also “been successfully tested for facial verification within YouTube videos, but this was challenging because the imagery was not as sharp compared to photos.”

Facebook’s current facial recognition software analyzes “the distance between an individual's eyes and nose in both profile pictures and already tagged images.” It is now only a matter of time before Facebook will get better at detecting faces because of these advances in “deep learning” technology and artificial intelligence.

DeepFace is just a research project for now, but the implications for this technology in the future are endless, as law enforcement officials might be able to better identify and catch criminals in photos and videos posted online. With the ability to potentially identify and track people everywhere, new questions and concerns about privacy are sure to arise from the use of this software.

With these advances in technology, it is possible that in the near future, “you could see someone on the street, point your iPhone at [them], and pull up a list of possible identity matches within seconds.” For now, as far as law enforcement is concerned, if it’s on the Internet–it’s fair game. 

So as always, the lesson here is to be careful about what you post on social media sites, or you may face legal consequences.

This was originally posted at the Eagle Strategies blog.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Classical ethical theories and modern advertising

The advertising world has been given a bad rap when it comes to ethical practices. There is no question that advertising can be controversial, as advertisers seem to continually push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable in society. It is common knowledge that an advertiser’s ultimate goal is to sell something. However, there are boundaries and the public will generally react negatively towards an advertisement if it is seen as offensive and discriminatory. Due to this, advertisers must consider classical ethical theories in their decision-making process when creating messages that the public will see.

One classical ethical theory that can be seen in advertising practice today is utilitarianism. Under utilitarianism, the only concern is for the greater good. This means that any decision or action that is taken should result in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people (Bivins, 2009). Numerous advertisements involving clothing and beauty products have been called out over the years for being discriminatory against women and self-serving for the company’s interests over society’s. Under utilitarianism, two brands stand out with their messages that promote happiness in the form of boosting self-esteem and redefining beauty among a large number of people in society.

One of the most famous examples is Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, which was launched in 2004 by Unilever. Dove promoted the act of defining “real beauty” and standing against superficiality that is dominant in the advertising industry today. In 2013, Dove released “Real Beauty Sketches,” which became the most watched advertisement ever.

In January, Aerie unveiled its “Real” campaign (which targets young adults) to promote a more positive body image. The advertisements have not been digitally retouched, meaning that the models that appear in the ads look that way in real life. 
Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory, which focuses on ends-based results rather than means (actions). Under this principle, an action is considered morally right if the results lead to happiness for the greatest number of people, and wrong if it ends in unhappiness (Bivins, 2009). The advertisements for Dove and Aerie didn’t make the majority of people unhappy. Instead, a large part of society was able to benefit from a positive message that promoted increased self-esteem and redefined beauty standards in advertising. This concept can also be looked at under the theory of communitarianism, which we will return to later.

The two above examples can also be applied to another ethical theory, deontology. Deontology is a non-consequentialist theory, which states that “the action itself should be the focus of the decision-making, not necessarily the outcome of the action” (Bivins, 2009). In other words, “nothing is good in itself except the act of good will” (Bivins, 2009). If someone acts with bad intent, they are acting unethically regardless if the outcome of their action was good or bad. Under this principle, if Dove and Aerie truly believed that they were doing the right thing and acting out of good will in spreading a positive message to young women, their actions are considered to be ethical. In this case, both campaigns communicated positive messages that they truly believed would help consumers and society.

However, there should be consideration in the fact that an advertiser’s ultimate goal is to sell something. German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s deontological theory, the Categorical Imperative, states that one must treat others as ends instead of using them as means to an end (Bivins, 2009). Dove and Aerie are ultimately trying to sell their products. Even if the message is positive and good for society, money and sales are the bottom line; companies use people as means to make money.

The money factor is relatable to another ethical theory, egoism. Egoism says that an “act is moral when it promotes one’s best long-term interest” (Bivins, 2009). Dove and Aerie are acting ethically because they are selling products in order to stay in business. Enlightened self-interest is a form of egoism wherein one brings about a desire to bring benefit to society because they are part of society (Bivins, 2009). The Dove and Aerie brand and the companies that own them (Unilever and American Eagle) are a part of society, so the companies’ actions are ethical because they are creating positive messages for which society can benefit while also providing a means to benefit themselves in the long-term.

Communitarianism is another ethical theory that can be applied to modern advertising. Under communitarianism, “decisions and actions should be essential to a sense of community and community values balanced with active personhood” (Bivins, 2009). It seeks to balance out the interests and well-being of the community and the individual that exists within that community. One of the main goals of communitarianism in advertising is to bring about a like-minded philosophy among the public. Sometimes advertisements created by non-profit organizations can fall under this principle, such as anti-obesity and anti-smoking campaigns. In February, the FDA launched a new anti-smoking ad campaign, called “The Real Cost,” to stop at-risk youth aged 12-17 from smoking or from becoming life-long smokers.

The Dove and Aerie campaigns send a strong moral message to women whose self-esteem has been negatively affected by advertisements for beauty and clothing products, where practice of digital retouching is practically standard. The messages communicated in the Dove and Aerie ads under communitarianism balance the interest and well-being of the community with the individual. Both advertisements promote messages supporting the widely held belief that the use of thin models or photo-editing software is unnecessary, while simultaneously promoting the advancement of societal views: shaping how society views the woman as an individual and how she views herself privately and as part of society.

Although the examples here were few, classical ethical theories can be applied in every advertising situation. For advertisers, it is important to understand these theories in order to make informed and ethical decisions when communicating with your audience. Ethics don’t always give answers to moral problems and different ethical theories may apply to different advertising situations, but if advertisers use ethical practices, they can deliver their messages to society with more discretion. the-real-cost-teeth-postcard-508ed-1.jpg
Advertisements like these stress issues that are important to the community and its overall well-being. An individual is part of a community, making the individual just as important to the community as the community is to the individual. For that reason, the overall health of the community should be considered. The information disseminated leads to awareness and action that is transformational within the community or society as a whole. Therefore, the FDA campaign promotes the message to stop young individuals from smoking with the expectation that it will help lead to a healthier community.

Bivins, T. (2009). Mixed media: Moral distinctions in advertising, public relations, and journalism. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.