Press release:

Ethics of Facebook to be Explored at Cal Poly on May 13
Social network continues to gain power but also feed worries

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA—April 6, 2011—The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly today announced the next talk in its Technology, Policy & Ethics Lecture Series. Dr. Anthony F. Beavers—philosophy and cognitive scientist at University of Evansville in Indiana—will deliver an invited lecture entitled “Facebook Revisited: How the Business of Social Networking May Redefine Our Sense of Right and Wrong” on Friday, May 13, 1:00-2:30p in Building 06-124 (Philips Hall) at Cal Poly.

At around 700 million members, Facebook is the largest social science dataset ever collected—helping it to acquire a great deal of social and political power in a very short time, both in terms of profiling users and steering public opinion. For instance, within the last year, Facebook started directing more traffic than Google and, on some reports, accounted for 12% of all internet activity.

Given that Facebook executives are aware of the site’s growing power, Dr. Beavers will explore what the company intends to, or can, do with it. From the user’s perspective, Facebook is just a site for connecting with friends, “friends”, and family. But what else is going on, particularly with respect to our values?

Two years ago, Dr. Beavers gave a talk at Cal Poly on the virtues of Facebook. This talk will revisit and reassess the themes raised earlier and consider the vices that Facebook has acquired after two years of accelerated growth. Some of the worries continuing to surround Facebook include privacy violations, redefinition of friendship, its influence on which relationships bloom, loss of life-memories, and other concerns.

Dr. Tony Beavers is Professor of Philosophy, Director of Cognitive Science, and Director of the Digital Humanities Laboratory at the University of Evansville. He is the President of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy and currently serves on the organizing committees for several conferences, institutes and symposia dedicated to computer modeling, network analysis and the philosophical aspects of computing. His publications range from social and political issues involved with computing and robotics to formal papers on the philosophy of computation and the history and philosophy of information technology.

Sponsored by Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts and its Philosophy Department, the talk is free and open to the public.

Based at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, the Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group is a non-partisan research and educational organization focused on the risk, ethical, and social impacts of emerging technologies. Current projects and interests are related to issues in robotics, human enhancement, nanotechnology, space development, geoengineering, and other areas. Please visit us at or


Patrick Lin, Ph.D., Director
palin [at]

Copyright © Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group
All trademarks, logos and images are the property of their respective owners.