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What is Social Media Monitoring? Accessing (“Scraping”) publicly available posts and comments in aggregate from Internet users on social media sites; e.g. Facebook Twitter Blogs YouTube Consumer Review Sites Internet Discussion Boards Other
Why So Popular? Authentic viewpoints Grassroots opinion Unprompted views Can be cheaper than surveys, focus groups Consumers not “expecting” marketers and researchers to be listening. ….and therein lies the rub…..
What do Net Users Know? June 2010. Source: http://blog.vovici.com/blog/bid/28663/Consumer-Attitudes-towards-Social-Media-Market-Research-casrotech
Not Really A New Issue…USENET 2 Key Ethical Questions:BulletinBoardsOnline Groups Arethe Posts Public?—that’s OK.Web Boards Or are they Private—that’s notListServ OK.Archives Can Any Harm Be Done by Aggregating This Information?
The Matter of Private v Public Private: From Latin privatus “set apart,” “belonging to oneself” (not to the state), used in contrast to publicus, communis. Public: From Latin publicus. “pertaining to the people.” Meaning "open to all in the community" from 1540s (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)
So….on the Social Web… Tweets, YouTube videos, blog posts Facebook Groups, Facebook “Pages”; consumer review site comments and Facebook Walls (if left open and public) ARE IN FACT PUBLIC… AND IF WHEN DATA IS COLLECTED… Individuals are NOT Personally Identifiable (Gathered in Aggregate) THEN…
Such Research Cannot be Categorizedas “Unethical” That is: It is not deceptive, does not invade personal privacy, nor does it cause any obvious harm* HOWEVER! * There are arguments that all marketing that categorizes people and uses data to sell products or services to a defined group is intrusive, annoying, and an anathema to a good public life, but that argument goes beyond the technique of using social media.
SMM Still RequiresGuidelines and Codes Why? Yes, the conversation is public—but meant for a certain audience; so when others listen in it may be: Considered impolite/eavesdropping/feel intrusive Consider the Danish term: intimsfære in Danish "personal space" or "private life” Not private nor public
Suggested SMM Code of Conduct No Deception Pretending to be someone you are not Research in the guise of marketing Do not use “walled garden” data (e.g. must join, register, go through other gates) Take precautions against accidental exposure Be extra careful with “sensitive” information Do not use quotations or other material that could be traced back to an individual Be aware that people are more than their narrow social media “footprint”
What’s Next? What’s Now? Geo-location Market Research Face Recognition Technologies Public Video Chats? (eg Google+ Hangout) Will continually need to revisit ethics and new technologies
When in Doubt…2 Basic Rules Golden Rule—How would you feel? Would you care if what you were doing was published in tomorrow’s newspaper?
Thank You! Robert Berkman Asst. Professor, Communication Studies Keuka College, Keuka Park, NY Editor, The Information Advisor Co-Author: Digital Dilemmas: Ethical Issues for New Media Professionals (Blackwell)