Press release:

Ethics of Facebook to be Discussed in May 4 Talk at Cal Poly
Does Facebook redefine friendship, promote only some relationships, affect self-identity?

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – April 20, 2009 – The Ethics + Emerging Sciences Group at Cal Poly today announced the third talk in its Technology & Ethics Lecture Series. Dr. Anthony F. Beavers—philosopher and cognitive scientist at University of Evansville in Indiana—will deliver a presentation entitled “Ethics of Facebook” on Monday, May 4, 2:00-3:30p in Building 26-103 (Graphic Arts) at Cal Poly.

Recent research indicates unintended effects arising from Facebook, the fast-growing social networking site, from overtaking email to become the most popular Internet activity to perhaps causing lower school grades. Dr. Beavers’ talk, then, is a timely look at some of the less obvious ethical issues connected with Facebook.

Touching briefly on issues such as privacy, employer scrutiny of employee profiles, fairness for all users, Dr. Beavers will focus on issues that concern the quality of life more broadly, particularly:

1. Whether Facebook redefines friendship in ways that are potentially helpful or harmful;
2. How Facebook’s news feed might influence which relationships will develop and which will not;
3. Whether Facebook plays a positive or negative role in helping users attain a meaningful sense of purpose and self-identity;
4. How Facebook contributes to remembrance and the coherence of one’s life for older users and how the need for such may not even arise for younger users;
5. And whether the openness of our private lives on Facebook will lead to restructuring the social and moral expectations placed on us as human beings, and, in turn, help us better understand and accept ourselves for what we are.

Dr. Tony Beavers is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Cognitive Science at the University of Evansville in southern Indiana. He is currently a Digital Humanities Fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities and is spending the year at Indiana University, as a visiting scholar, to work on the Noesis search engine for the discipline of philosophy. He is also the Executive Director of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy and Program Chair for its 2009 North American conference dedicated to “Networks and Their Philosophical Implications.”

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, and other areas. Please visit us at or


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

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