This is not the first time Facebook – or other social networking sites – have been accused of privacy violations. Just last year, two computer scientists published the report, “On the Leakage of Personally Identifiable Information via Online Social Networks,” which focused on how networking sites could be leaking personally identifiable information to marketers. One example given in an article published on MediaPost.com, if a gay Facebook users was struggling to come out of the closet, he or she might be view a Facebook gay support group page. If they should click on one of the ads on the page, the advertiser would then know that person was on a gay support group page, as well as their personal information given on their personal profile.
With just the click of the mouse, this person’s personal information – as well as the information from all the pervious pages they have visited – have been made available to advertisers and marketers, and what’s to stop the marketers from blindly soliciting these people? The truth – nothing. And what’s to stop these marketers from sharing information? Nothing. There exists no checks and balance system in online social media and marketing. Privacy laws exist, but it’s readily apparent how well those are followed if these allegations turn out to be true and Facebook glitches pass this information to its advertisers. Even so, nothing exists to check and see where these marketers obtained this information – it’s a roundabout way of “Everybody gets what they get,” and they will all use what they get.
Information needs to be protected, whether it be on a social media networking site or directly given to advertisers and marketers. For instance, when people sign up for Google Alerts and receive emails throughout the day because they want to monitor particular terms or information, they are trusting Google that they don’t need to worry about what else Google might do with that information or that they’ll have to deal with unsolicited, marketing emails. Much the same way they sign up for Google Alerts or other updates, people will sign up with marketers to receive emails about their products so they can be advertised to as opposed to a blind solicitation and are forced to wonder how a marketer got their information and what else they might be doing with it.
At Buzzphoria, we strictly adhere to WOMMA’s (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) Code of Ethics http://womma.org/ethics/code/intro/ and those of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) http://www.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/Ethics/?utm_source=prsa_website&utm_medium=top_nav_intelligence&utm_campaign=ethics_nav. It is our feeling that as marketers, we need to provide consumers with a level of confidence when dealing with brands and companies not only to be transparent and authentic but to also protect the trust a consumer places in our hands when they provide us with personal information.