Web Application Development with Cloud Technologies; A Virtue Ethics Analysis of Mark Zuckerberg’s Response to Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Tirumalapudi, Harshita, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Laugelli, Benjamin, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

My technical work and STS research are interconnected through the concept of cloud computing and software development, highlighting their impact in today’s digital world. Cloud providers offer computing resources and services via the Internet. My technical project focuses on developing web applications using cloud technologies to enhance insights, while my research delves into the importance of virtues as an engineer and leader in software processes. Although my technical project and research approach software development from different perspectives, they both center on the technical and moral practices involved.

My technical work explores the use of cloud services to develop a web application that offers migration insights for a cloud service provider company. A cloud service provider collaborates with numerous companies that utilize their cloud services and resources to enhance their clients' business operations by migrating their technology to the cloud. My intern team and I followed an agile software development methodology and coded a web application from scratch that generates migration insights and cost estimations. The goal of this project was not only to build a web development for more efficient analytics but also to learn how to create technologies that prioritize scalability and agility in design while adhering to best practices for security and privacy.

My STS research explores software development, focusing on the responsibility of engineers and leaders in creating and handling technology. Specifically, I examine Mark Zuckerberg’s response to the Cambridge Analytica Scandal with Facebook. This scandal involved Facebook's authorization for third-party companies, including Cambridge Analytica, to access user data without explicit permission. I use the virtue ethics framework to demonstrate that Zuckerberg’s actions and responses were inconsistent with the moral virtues expected of professional engineers. I employ the virtues of responsible engineering derived from Michael S. Pritchard’s list to illustrate Zuckerberg's immoral behavior. My paper comprehensively explores Zuckerberg’s actions and discusses the importance of ensuring the responsible development and maintenance of technology that respects user privacy and trust.

Working on these two projects allowed me to gain a better understanding of software development and its nuances. Through my technical project, I learned best practices in coding, and through my STS research, I learned how to create and maintain technologies in a morally responsible manner. While my two projects are not closely related, the STS research paper allowed me to become more cognizant of the work I do. I will carry the engineering virtues of accountability, clear communication, and dedication to quality into my job post-graduation as I complete various technical projects.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Cambridge Analytica, Computer science, Software Development
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