Posted on 09/11/2012 · Posted in Online Marketing

The Ethical Boundaries of Online Marketing

 

Recently (a few years back) thousands of Facebook users’ details were compiled into a single online directory which can be easily downloaded by anyone. This has alerted people of the potential risks of displaying personal information online. The longer that comprehensive data is readily available online, the more likely it is that someone (anyone) could compile and manage that data to use it for their own devices, whatever they may be.

Tesco is already using data management effectively to market specific brands and products. Everyone with a registered Clubcard is disclosing exactly which products they buy each time they go into the store. Similarly, Google has begun using Gmail accounts to track each user’s search patterns. Eventually this will drastically reshape Search Engine Marketing as Google will have the ability to promote certain brands to suit the searcher’s specific tastes and preferences.

At the moment the information you give out on the internet will mostly be used to target online marketing which is pretty harmless and potentially quite useful. However, there are obvious ethical and security risks when one body has access to a large amount of personal data. The US are considering introducing new legislation to place strict rules on how internet companies collect and share personal data for online marketing purposes.

In the Philippines a man was arrested after a woman recognised his description from seeing the suspect on Facebook. In this instance Facebook has reintroduced the community knowhow of a small village where everyone knows everyone else’s business. The difference is that anyone can get hold of this information whether you know them or not, and for any purpose. Perhaps it is cynicism, perhaps it is our heightened awareness of corruption, but as soon as privacy is threatened the words “Big Brother” ring in our ears and we envisage an Orwellian Dystopia where everyone is forced to wear grey and eat gruel.

So without being overcome by suspicion and fear, it is of course advised that we remain prudent when displaying personal information on the Internet. Just set your privacy settings high and keep an eye out for any policy changes. If it comes to the worst I’m told grey is a very easy colour to pull off.

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