User Beware: Privacy Settings just a Facade

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By Brenda Curtis, Ph.D.

Social media platforms continue to improve and refine their privacy settings as the demand for advanced user protections increases. Although enabling catered privacy settings to online profiles allows users to indicate who they would like share personal information with, it does not necessarily protect them from the platforms – i.e. websites and apps – themselves. Since social media accounts provide users with a sense of control over personal data, users assume that their information is safe. However, no matter what settings or privacy protections are applied to personal profiles, users do not generally have control over the online platform itself. What this means is the website or app being used usually shares information from accounts with third parties like advertising agencies or other databases. This data sharing is widespread throughout the industry, but it is not generally known by the public. This is partly because the disclosure of this sharing is done in the social media platform’s “Terms and Conditions” Which are often skimmed over or ignored.

Aside from social media websites, there are several other websites and apps that access your personal information via this information sharing to create a single database for everyone in the country. This is generally called data aggregation. One such site that has been in the news recently is FamilyTreeNow.  FamilyTreeNow is explicitly a genealogy site, and compiles information from various legal online sources to create a database full of personal information for genealogical research. This site pairs information from public records such as police records and court documents with the information collected from social media and address databases to create a sometimes way too revealing profile. Not too long ago, most of this information would only be accessible after exhaustive research, but Now FamilyTreeNow makes this information as easy to find as a click of a button, and publicly accessible.

Although the website might be fascinating for someone with genuine curiosity about their own family tree, the danger of anyone having access to information to a person’s age, birth year, address, family members and even public records is something that cannot be ignored. In today’s world, access to this type of personal information makes crimes like identity theft much easier to conduct and can provide the basis for access to financial accounts, credit records and other accounts and assets. For years we have been cautioning users against posting too much information online, but increasingly, due to data aggregators like FamilyTreeNow, this information is being posted without our knowledge or consent on publicly accessible sites.

Continue reading “User Beware: Privacy Settings just a Facade”

Now Accepting Applications: Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholarship in Ethics Education

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The 2016 Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholars

The application period for scholarships to attend Fordham University’s intensive three-day interdisciplinary ethics graduate course is now open! The course, or workshop, will be held May 23 – 25, 2017 at Fordham University, New York City, USA!

The Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholarship in Ethics Education provides direct financial support for international students who wish to pursue graduate-level study in Fordham University’s Master’s in Ethics and Society program.

Students who apply to the program through the scholarship complete the workshop titled, “CEED 6100: Theories and Applications in Contemporary Ethics” which is designed to provide cross-disciplinary perspectives on moral theory and applied ethics. Using a team-teaching approach, this course brings together faculty from at least six different disciplines to integrate foundational knowledge about moral theory from the humanities and sciences with contemporary applications and social issues.

The scholarship covers:

  • Tuition: The cost of tuition for the graduate courses and administrative fees.
  • Travel: Applicants may request funding for travel to New York City Applications should include estimates of costs, including the source for the estimate (e.g., airline website, travel agency).
  • Lodging: As part of the scholarship, housing may be provided to funded students at one of Fordham’s graduate student housing facilities.

Applications for are due March 15, 2017.

Continue reading “Now Accepting Applications: Fordham/Santander Universities International Student Scholarship in Ethics Education”

‘Goodness of Fit Ethics’ to Promote Health Research for LGBT Youth

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This past November, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and advancement of the highest ethical standards in the conduct of research, held its annual Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference featuring Dr. Celia B. Fisher, Director of the Center for Ethics Education and HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute at Fordham University. She, along with Janet L. Brody, PhD and Eric Kodish, MD, were panelists on Panel III: Research With Children and Adolescents: Who and How Is the Decision Made to Participate?

Discussing her NIH-funded research on ethical issues in research involving LGBT youth, Dr. Fisher discussed the “interfamilial, regulatory and ethical tensions” that emerge in HIV prevention studies striving to recruit sexual and gender minority adolescents under 18 years of age.

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Fordham RETI Fellow Discusses Addiction with U.S. Surgeon General on NPR

Dr. Erin Bonar, University of Michigan

Earlier this month, the United States Surgeon General issued a report declaring substance use disorders, like addiction, the “most pressing public health crises of our time.” The report called the country to action to both help those struggling with the chronic illness of addiction and change how addiction in the U.S. is perceived as a “criminal justice problem” rather than the public health problem that it is.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) Fellow Dr. Erin Bonar, an assistant professor and researcher at the University of Michigan, recently addressed addiction in a panel along with the U.S. Surgeon General on NPR titled, “How To Spot — And Treat — Addiction In Your Family.”

“Many people still believe that addition is a moral failing or a sign of weakness, but decades of research as summarized in the surgeon general’s report support the notion that this is medical condition brought about by a number of factors, including genetics and environmental influences,” Bonar explained.

Continue reading “Fordham RETI Fellow Discusses Addiction with U.S. Surgeon General on NPR”

Now Accepting Applications: Fordham University’s Master’s Degree in Ethics and Society and the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute

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Master’s Degree in Ethics and Society: Spring 2017

The Master of Arts in Ethics and Society provides students with a solid grounding in moral theory and ethical practice in fields such as philosophy, theology, bioethics, research ethics, business and law.

Preparation for:
– Doctoral programs in the humanities and biological and social sciences
– Professional degree programs in medicine and law
– Employment in a variety of fields including government, nonprofit, academia, business, and healthcare)

Engage in practicum experiences throughout the New York Metropolitan Area at:
– St. Barnabas Hospital
– Global Bioethics Initiative
– Generation Citizen
– Fordham University Institutional Review Board
– Families and Work Institute
– And more

Continue reading “Now Accepting Applications: Fordham University’s Master’s Degree in Ethics and Society and the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute”

Fordham RETI Fellow Addresses Stigma for HIV-Positive Gay and Bisexual Men

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Dr. Jonathon Rendina, Hunter College, CUNY

The minority stress theory suggests that health disparities experienced by gay and bisexual men (GBM) and other sexual minorities can be explained in terms of stigma-related stressors such as discrimination at work, school, religious institutions, communities and families. The unique stressors of an HIV-positive status experienced by GBM, however, has been overlooked within research on minority stress.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) Fellow Dr. Jon Rendina, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Faculty Investigator and Director of Quantitative Methods at The Center for HIV Educational Studies & Training (CHEST) of Hunter College, CUNY, recently addressed this issue within a paper published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Dr. Rendina has been conducting HIV research with GBM for more than ten years. He explained the need to thoroughly test “the role of internalized stigma about sexual orientation, or internalized homophobia, and internalized HIV stigma within a unified model to see whether one or both have an impact on HIV-positive gay or bisexual men.” Although it is already established that GBM are negatively impacted by internalized sexual minority stigma, the purpose of this study was to further explore the impact of HIV-related stressors on the health of GBM.

Continue reading “Fordham RETI Fellow Addresses Stigma for HIV-Positive Gay and Bisexual Men”

RETI Fellow Examines Intersectional Stigma for HIV-Positive African American Women

Dr. Faith Fletcher, University of Illinois at Chicago

While bearing the disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDs in the US, African American women also face multi-level stigma at social, community and institutional levels, which is exacerbated by their HIV-positive status.

Fordham University Center for Ethics Education HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) fellow Dr. Faith E. Fletcher, an Assistant Professor in Community Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, recently addressed this issue using her dissertation research in an article titled, “She Told Them, Oh That Bitch Got AIDS”: Experiences of Multi-Level HIV/AIDS- Related Stigma among African American Women Living with HIV/AIDS in the South” published in AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

Dr. Fletcher interviewed 42 African American women with HIV/AIDS living in South Carolina. She found that “HIV/AIDS stigma permeated many dimensions of women’s lives, including the research process.” Using narrative data and the Social Ecological Model, Dr. Fletcher’s findings demonstrate the need for an enhanced understanding of multi-level stigma experienced by HIV-positive African American women to inform innovative and tailored approaches.“Settings that are generally regarded as safe spaces for most individuals are not necessarily safe for HIV-positive African American women due to the intersections of stigma in places where women “live, work, love, play, and pray,” Dr. Fletcher explained.

Although many women in the study identified their homes as safe spaces to complete interviews, several participants completed interviews in Dr. Fletcher’s car to enhance privacy. Dr. Fletcher contends “ethical challenges in the research process emanating from additive, layered stigma can limit the availability of invulnerable research spaces.”  Dr. Fletcher shared that her research and training at RETI has offered her a strong foundation to identify and address ethical issues that may arise while engaging communities in the HIV research process.

Please click here for more information on the Fordham University HIV Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI).

Citation: Fletcher FE, Annang L, Kerr J, Buchberg M, Bogdan-Lovis L, Philpott-Jones S. “She Told Them, Oh That Bitch Got AIDS”: Experiences of Multi-Level HIV/AIDS- Related Stigma among African American Women Living with HIV/AIDS in the South. AIDS Patient Care and STDs. 2016 Jul;30(7):349-56. doi: 10.1089/apc.2016.0026. PMID:27410498.

Rimah Jaber, MA, Senior Editor of Ethics and Society blog