As the creators of technology we are responsible for making it ethical.
— Gleb Sabirzyanov
Designers, developers, marketers, entrepreneurs and everyone in between — we all are concerned about people who use our products. However, it may be hard to keep doing good for them when you don't see these people in real life. Moreover, when you work with hundreds or thousands of people, you don't see them at all. All you see is numbers, digital interfaces, and things that can affect those numbers. It's easy to forget, that there are people who are using the devices. Real people with their own thoughts, emotions, experiences...
I collected some examples that show that sometimes people who create technology and sell products may forget, not think, or even ignore people they are serving.
There were a lot of scandals with privacy and Facebook recently. People start to understand that they are totally misusing the data they are given. I've heard a nice quote on Twitter that in my opinion explains the situation nicely, “Facebook employees are given just enough money to not think about the ethical side of what they are doing.” But also people who are using Facebook are not educated on the tech side of things, so they may not even know what data they are giving away.
There are scam call-centers in India and other countries — they make money from people who don't know much about computers. Any kind of scamming is bad, however the modern technology and naive people who use it give other people with malicious intent the ability to make quick buck in such an unethical way. They don't use any malicious software for it — just regular online services that are available to regular people who have good intentions. And their scam business will continue to exist unless the whole world is more educated on technology.
It's not a surprise for anyone that algorithms on the social platforms are able to process your data and curate what you want to see. However, sometimes they make mistakes. Big mistakes. They are not trained for negative events, they don't understand negative emotions, and they don't “uncurate” things they are made to curate based on human input. There are two cases that I know of, but I'm sure there are much more less known ones. These stories are sad, and I cannot describe them as beautiful as their authors, so read them here and here.
With the goal of compliance with the moral and religious law, a designer betrays their own moral and ethical principles and says, “no judgement”. As Clo says, it's an easy position to be in. A designer, developer or any other person who is not judging the ethical side of their work and being a robot who produces whatever they are asked to produce could be dangerous for the modern society.
In one of the After-hour livestreams on TheFutur channel, Chris Do told a story of them declining a one-million dollar job. People who they wanted to work with were rude and even racist — humiliating Asians who were their clients. Chris Do, being an Asian himself, noticed it and decided to end their relationship with that agency. Other people in the room (caucasian dudes) didn't pay much attention to that act of racism and thought mostly about the money. With this example Chris shows that ethics are important in design and business — and we need more educators like him.
Education is the key.