Plagiarism in the age of instant, digital content

Buzzfeed has fired its “viral politics editor”, Benny Johnson, for numerous (read: forty one so far?) instances of plagiarism. Buzzfeed isn’t some bedroom-based conveyor belt of clickable content, it’s a major site, employing many people, producing original content and sometimes actual journalism.

However, Buzzfeed, as a whole, is an entity existing in an ethical quandary with content creation. [Read more…]

On the ethics of public shaming & digital mob justice

I wrote a post for the New Statesman on using public shaming and digital “mob justice” – even when aimed at those people we consider to be wrong. I’m unconvinced of public shaming as a tactic, in terms of “justice” – since one would hope that enforcing justice is itself considered in moral terms; that we don’t assume moral immunity because we’re responding to an injustice, but rather maintaining morality even while maintaining justice – in an unjust and often horrible world.

I don’t doubt public shaming is effective – but efficacy must be measured alongside other perhaps equally effective, but more moral responses and so on. My concern is that we can’t control how others respond and this is especially telling when original offences – say making a racist joke – is less bad than responses – calls for raping the offender.

There’s a lot to focus on, but this currently is my position regarding public shaming. It doesn’t mean we never act, only act better.

Wherein I take issue with an innocent person being mocked for one mistake

I wrote a post, now at the Guardian  where I take issue with the unnecessary mockery and derision aimed at Miss Utah 2013, Marissa Powell. Basically, I’m realising I’m waging a war on an entity I’ve decided to call “the Internet”.

My favourite comment so far is this one [click to enlarge].

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 7.00.11 PM

This person has uncovered my secret plan! Nooo!