ALC205 Collaborative Media Assignment – Group Blog Post & Video

Group 4

Juanita Alvarez

Anqi Li

Ayla Gray

Our film ‘Always Watching’ was put together by Juanita Alvarez, Anqi Li, and Ayla Gray. We really enjoyed making this film, and we did encounter some challenges, but it gave us the chance to be a little creative.

Our video explores the concepts and problems all our favourite Celebrities face, stalking. We all had a very keen interest in surveillance in celebrity culture. All we did for the brainstorming aspect of this project was think of some ways we can showcase and talk about the examples of situations where either fans or paparazzi invaded privacy, took things too far and how attached they can be because of the nature of a celebrity. We talked about recent stories and well-known celebrities that have been involved in these kinds of situations which started giving us some ideas about what kind of story we want to tell.

We discussed the option of doing a TMZ inspired report on celebrity news. Where we are all reporters sharing our thoughts on recent footage that has gone viral. We really liked this idea and decided to stick with it and develop the message of the story. When planning the video and discussing the direction we wanted to go we found the most difficult task would be filming and editing the whole thing. This was because we all had very different schedules and found that we couldn’t do what we originally had in mind and film some of the scenes together. We then had to think a little bit more creatively regarding the script so we could avoid having scenes filming together. Writing the script was really easy for us we all had a section each and decided we would come up with a story based on a real celebrity but change name and some other facts for copyright purposes. The only issue we found when writing the script was coming up with a title for our show. Always Watching was one of the last things we had decided on, and we felt it would be a fitting title as our show was about analyzing footage of celebrities.

The story within this gossip show is an excellent way to display how reporters critique fans and paparazzi on stalking when what they are doing themselves are a form of celebrity stalking and surveillance. The aim of the show is to keep the audience updated with the latest celebrity news, meaning we are the reporters are also stalking and searching for the quality stories. One of the lines in the script that actually delivers the irony of the show is ‘that’s an invasion of privacy.’ which we think really conveys the concept of how much celebrities lives are monitored and that the monitoring of celebrities lives is also monitored.

We initially wanted to create more of a comedy, but the final product looks more like a mocking of reporters and also a story that makes you realise how focused society is on knowing all you possibly can about celebrities. I think this is because of how we decided to film it. In a meeting we had we discussed the possibility of filming as if we are all corresponding from a different location. Just like a skype or google hangout. We thought why not create a webcam-style so it would cut in and out to each reporter as we discuss each story. We also suggested maybe having all screens on at once so it looks like a live chat. But because we all have moderate editing skills we were going to see what we could do. The finished video product was more of a cutaway-style interview due to time constraints and editing program limitations, but the effect remained the same.

Filming separately also raised some challenges, we discussed that we would have to also film time after we speak to look like we are actively listening while the other person talks if it would be multiple cameras on the screen. We also had to create a deadline for all the material to be done so we could experiment on editing and see if we had to re-film or add more. It also meant we needed to keep a constant form of communication to make sure we had all of the footage for the film. The benefit of filming separately was delegating jobs evenly and making sure we all have an appearance in the video. We also had to create consent forms for people who were acting in our film as our celebrities in the footage, these people ended up being most of our friends that we could rally at any time.

We also had to think of music for our show, we had a list of songs that would potentially work, the choices ranged from heavy metal to slow jazz. Surprisingly they all had great potential and could actually work. But we had to make sure the one that we picked set the right tone for the story.  We made the decision to use a heavy instrumental rock piece that would be used in the intro and credits. We thought It works well as our intro is going to be a little montage of celebrities reacting to in your face cameras. So the loud rock music would help highlight the aggression in the footage.

We had all the elements for our film, and we had developed the concept to make it work for our schedule, as previously mentioned we knew editing would be a big job. So we decided they Ayla would edit it all together. To make it a little easier, we all edited our own sections that we sent in. So cut it where it’s useful and only send clips that can be put straight into the video. We were quite happy with this arrangement as it would be the most productive way to work considering how pushed for time we were.
We are extremely proud of our final product and also our efforts as we did overcome some challenging obstacles. We hope you enjoy our video!

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Surveillance & Ethics

There are different ethical codes written for almost every area of study and social engagement, from psychology, medicine, sports, and journalism, but with the unprecedented increase of social networking, a new question has to be raised: are there and should there be ethics applied to the emotional and psychological manipulation of a social media platform’s users?

Aggressive marketing and data collection practices, however, have placed Facebook at the center of public policy debates over consumer privacy” (Montgomery, K, pp. 771).

Recent studies have shown that Facebook, in particular, has questionable ethics concerning the wellbeing of their users, particularly adolescents. A study in the Telecommunications Policy journal showed that Facebook was especially tuned into many of the key elements of adolescent development, and have been ” tapping into young peoples’ needs and taking advantage of their unique vulnerabilities” (Montgomery, K, pp. 771).

This poses a new question in the context of online safety, particularly where children and adolescents are concerned: there are policies to deal with cyber crime enacted against a minor, and there are policies to protect Facebook and other platforms against legal action should someone choose to pursue it (such as the terms of service and license agreements), but where protecting people from the social networking companies themselves is concerned, the water is muddy.

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Facebook by Christopher (CC BY 2.0)

Interestingly, while a whole new sector of crime prevention has opened up in response to rising levels of cyber crime, this has so far failed to yield any effective strategies that prevent consumers being taken advantage of by legitimate companies. Cyber crime prevention is focussed entirely on other threats, such as “fraud, identity theft, theft of money or data (which could include patent or trade secrets), and malicious attacks using viruses (sabotage), sextortion, and even sometimes cyber-bullying” (McMahon, R, Bressler, M, Bressler, L, pp. 26); however, psychological manipulation is not listed, and there have been no policies or laws passed concerning the responsibilities of social networking corporations to their users.

This has lead to an unfortunate grey area for social media users, as the terms of service agreements often prevent them from taking action simply because they agreed to said terms of service. For example, in 2014, Facebook conducted a “mood altering experiment” to measure social media’s effect over people’s emotions by censoring various different posts on users’ newsfeeds, either by ensuring that only positive or negative news was shown. Despite the fact that users were upset, and that no debriefing for the unwilling participants was done (a requirement, by psychology ethics), Facebook published the information and findings, and the participants of the study were unable to pursue any legal action or seek compensation.

Knowing that this is an issue, now, will hopefully bring law enforcement attention to the issue of protecting users from the corporate-owned social media platforms they’re using, and bring about policy change concerning the ethics of online social manipulation.

References:

McMahon, R, Bressler, M, & Bressler, L 2016, ‘NEW GLOBAL CYBERCRIME CALLS FOR HIGHTECH CYBER-COPS’, Journal Of Legal, Ethical & Regulatory Issues, 19, 1, pp. 26-37, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 August 2016.

Montgomery, KC 2015, ‘Youth and surveillance in the Facebook era: Policy interventions and social implications’, Telecommunications Policy, 39, SPECIAL ISSUE ON THE GOVERNANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA, pp. 771-786, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, viewed 23 August 2016.

U.S Army Recruiters & Independence Day: Resurgence

While viral and immersive marketing campaigns have grown increasingly more noticeable and elaborate in response to a boom in digital presence, many avid sci-fi fans noticed that, upon the release of Independence Day: Resurgence that the marketing campaign had stepped up a notch.

Social media ethics are a grey area to this day – technology evolves so quickly and unpredictably that laws are too slow to catch up, leaving ethically dubious marketing and advertising still technically legal.

Advertisers and the U.S Army teamed up for the marketing of the new Independence Day movie, creating a game that harmlessly invites sci-fi fans to play through a few missions, set in-universe, on Facebook. Facebook in turn asks for access to the user’s information; allowing access, however, does more than just enable gameplay.

The gameplay is actually hosted through GOARMY.com – the official U.S Army recruitment website. Allowing access through Facebook immediately sends all the user’s information to the website, providing realtime information to recruiters.

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GOARMY.com logo by Imcomkorea (CC BY 2.0)

This is one of many ethically grey areas that exist in social media; Facebook’s terms and services prevent legal action from being taken by users, but the selling of personal information is morally disputable at best.

Both Facebook and Google have been subject to controversies around privacy. (Youmans, York, pp. 319).

While social media is indisputably used for gathering user information and to enhance marketing to different groups, many sci-fi fans were quick to note that the U.S Army having all their data and information was a step up from the usual step of allowing Facebook access to an app; it would have real-world applications, and was being used as subliminal messaging in an online recruitment process without it being explicitly stated anywhere on the website.

Most importantly, the Army is attempting to make use of social media platforms to affirmatively communicate the Army message to the public, Soldiers, Families, Army civilians, and people all over the world. (Jonasz, pp. 38)

Many journalists have argued that the U.S Army’s involvement in the viral marketing campaign crosses a few ethical lines, and that the video gaming aspect to the campaign to gather and distribute user data to army recruitment strategists is taking advantage of social media. This opens up a new facet to recruitment and propaganda that has only just begun to be noticed and utilised in the last two decades – the use of the Internet to gather information on potential recruits, use subliminal messaging, and to incorporate real military propaganda in gamified marketing campaigns.

This poses a problem itself; there is no legislation preventing military access to civilian information via social media, and Facebook as a company is protected by its terms and services. Additionally, the popup that asks for access to the game requires user consent, which removes any liability from Facebook itself in the dissemination of personal information.

The Army quickly recognized the importance of the fact that social media provides users the capability to rapidly and efficiently communicate with large numbers of people over a 2-way communications platform using multiple media such as audio, video, photo, and text. (Jonasz, pp. 38)

With the armed forces quickly recognising the significance, impact, and presence of the internet in modern-day society, it of course became an easy, fast, and effective method to gather data on potential civilian recruits and attitudes towards the armed forces. This included the use of a video gaming element in a viral marketing campaign to find potential recruits, blurring the lines between online privacy and ethical data mining.

 

References:

Jonasz, A 2012, ‘Social Media: Some Things to Consider Before Creating an Online Presence’, U.S. Army Medical Department Journal, pp. 37-46, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2016.

Youmans, W, & York, J 2012, ‘Social media and the activist toolkit: User agreements, corporate interests, and the information infrastructure of modern social movements’, Journal Of Communication, 62, 2, pp. 315-329, PsycINFO, EBSCOhost, viewed 9 August 2016.