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Fairmont State University GeoSavvy Guide: GeoEthics


Interest in geoethics has increased dramatically in recent years with the rise of social media and personal devices that serve up abundant user data, as well as the greater capacity of open mapping and voluntary data collection. Building on previous efforts over the past two decades, the American Geographical Society currently has its EthicalGEO project; the American Association of Geographers (AAG) and Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC), have organized online meetings to discuss ethics; and the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management group is focusing on teaching geospatial ethics. (Goodchild, Summer 2021)



GIS and Society

Repository for GIS and Society Discussion The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

Original Initiatives The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis 

GeoEthics and You

Geoethics and You 

Geoethics continues to be a growing area of discussion in the geospatial and geography community.  Michael Goodchild talks about Geoethics in the geospatial community 

Fairmont State University’s Open Source Intelligence Exchange (OSIX) laboratory part of the university’s National Security and Intelligence (NSI) program worked on Project Atlas which researched Security Risks to Users from Social Media’s Data Mining Practices. They read the fine print for you.

The results of their work will help you to think about the geoethics of social media in your life. 

Did you read the fine print?

Do you read the small print?

Project OSIX at Fairmont State University completed an analysis of the small print and location-based geo-ethics of several social media companies. Do you read the small print? 

Security Risks to Users from Social Media’s Data Mining Practices

Too long; won’t read:

The most popular social media apps – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest – all collect information about you via data mining practices in order to build a profile about you. 

This profile allows tech companies to learn what you like in order to keep your attention for as long as possible, increasing the chances that you will spend money on the app and recommend it to your friends. It also allows tech companies to influence your behavior and thoughts in ways that can and ultimately do have serious personal and societal consequences.

Although you may feel that these privacy risks are nothing to be concerned about or, worse, that there is nothing you can do about them, as a human being, you have a right to privacy. Additionally, privacy is a group effort – “you are only as safe as the least-protected person in your group.” 

 Thus, you should take the following steps to protect yourself online and tell your friends to do the same:

1. Check your privacy settings regularly

2. Take advantage of the apps’ Privacy Checkups

3. Close old accounts when you’re done using them

4. When possible, use a VPN