Recently we found ourselves contemplating the ethical situation that Mars had to consider after discovering advertising for one of their products was being featured on YouTube ahead of a drill music video; something that they deemed to be “unacceptable”.
Whatever your thoughts on whether drill music is art imitating life or is fuelling life imitating art, there is no doubt that Mars were caught out by unexpected placement of their brand advertising.
What this highlighted to us was the need for ethical decisions to be made but also that you can’t always rely on algorithms to get it right; you have to trust the organisation you are working with and that you have to constantly be vigilant.
“Ethical Digital” is just a part of what helps to make us ‘Other’.
One of the founding pillars of Other Media was to adopt ethical principles within our business. This has presented itself in a variety of ways over many years; from treating our staff and associates with compassion and going far beyond our legal responsibilities as an employer where circumstances dictate to our (sometimes costly) refusal to work on projects where the values and activities of the client don’t align with ours. We rarely shout about this.
Fear is the enemy.
The digital landscape has become a scary place to many people of late. Genuine concerns and fears have been instilled into the broader public by reports of mass digital surveillance and data manipulation. People are genuinely worried. We stand on the cusp of an era where artificial intelligence will manage significant parts of our everyday existence and areas like digital diagnostics will literally make life-defining decisions where once only doctors dared to venture. We will interact more and more with bots, not humans. Data management and interpretation will assume ever-greater significance in automated decisions made by multinational businesses and governments alike. The list goes on… This can and will affect us all.
Can we stop this advanced digital activity simply running out of control?
For our part we make strenuous efforts to maintain strictly ethical guidelines to all our partner projects. For example, by adopting an “Ethical Digital” position we actively refuse to engage in areas we regard as potentially dangerous or destructive, damaging to health, intrusive of individual freedoms and rights or likely to be used for nefarious or illegal purposes.
These decisions are rarely straightforward.
It’s a crazy, mixed-up online world we live in. The complex digital pathways we take are rarely simple to navigate. Social media; “fake news’; online identity fraud; ever-changing customer expectations and debates about the cost/benefit of AI. These and many other complex issues make it a massive digital minefield out there.
It’s about making choices.
Naturally, we recognise that any ethical pathway is a narrow route to tread. We understand that good ideas can be used for bad purposes.When making choices, for ourselves and on behalf of and with clients, we work hard to assess the impact of those choices. It is important that our clients achieve the best digital value but not at any cost. By remaining aware of some of the above issues, we are taking responsibility to work with trusted partners to continually ask questions and remain vigilant.
We believe these are conversations we must always be having.