Are Social Media ads, or online advertising, a bad thing, a destructive thing, a terrible thing. In this writer’s opinion, not just yes, heck YES. A screaming number 5 on our scale of danger! I believe that our social media platforms are taking us, as a society, to the brink of extinction. We are led to believe that because whistleblowers crippled analytics companies like Cambridge Analytica, we live in a safer world, more secure, where our data is locked, and we are the only ones that can access it. Well, I can tell you that we are dead wrong. There are thousands of companies like Cambridge Analytica out there, harvesting and mining data on a second-by-second basis in order to drive big-data-online-marketing strategies for one purpose, and one purpose only, big profits, greed and power. We are living in untested times, where a digital footprint or data is more valuable than a tangible object like oil.
So the big question is where do we go from here how do we, as individuals, become accountable and responsible for this beast (social-online-advertising) that has been created? This is not a simple proposition, it’s rather difficult, because people in this space truly believe that they are doing good, but they are eroding our ethical and moral foundations to the point of instability.
So how do we manage it? Notice that I did not say, how do we fix it. This is not something we can turn off, as more and more people are bombarded by ads 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. We, as humans, do a better job of policing ourselves, the companies we work for, and the institutions we attend. We take on a cop type of role to make sure we are not using data for evil, but for good. Most importantly we act with a sense of compassion and transparency, by getting to our social roots of helping our communities, our families, our loved ones live a better, more fulfilled life.
I think we do know how to manage it, by living by the following principals:
- We are transparent.
- Not only transparent to what our product is or what our product does, but also how we use consumer interaction (data) of our product.
- On what do we use this data for, when, and how.
- Transparent on how we hold ourselves accountable, not just within the boundaries of the law, but we take it a step further.
- We act with integrity.
- Live the ‘do no wrong’ mantra to the fullest.
- If something seems wrong, if a marketing tactic, strategy, analytics seems like it crosses the line…say something.
- Transparency and integrity go hand in hand together.
- We assess the impact of our doing before submitting
or uploading an ad
- Let’s think about the impact of our actions, to our customers, our family, our neighbors, and our own selves.
- We communicate clearly to our audience without trying to influence an outcome or change other’s ways of thinking.
- We allow individuals to have full control not only of their decisions, but also of the data they produce.
- We analyze with care and think privacy.
- We share findings only to do more good, and not evil.
- We take all of this rich information to make our employees, companies, our society function in an independent and connected manner. Without fear of misuse, or mistrust of my loyalty to our brands.
By applying, living, and executing on the code of conduct above we can start to do the following:
- Sleep at night
- Feel like we are making a difference
- Know that it’s bigger than all of us
- Are supporting a grander cause
- Take care of others, for good
- Use data as a right not as a privilege
- Allow us to put down our phones and have a meaningful open and honest discussion, about anything besides what’s in our social and online channels
No doubt we are in a crisis, we have done a phenomenal job at driving wedges between people for top line sales and bottom-line profits. We know now that online activity is dividing us and not bringing us together. We know that, not doubt, we’ll continue to produce more and more data, that can be exploited. We have seen the evidence, when data is used for evil, and how it can manipulate governments, organizations, and society as a whole.
The time is now, the call to action is clear. We must be responsible for everything we do, every ad we imprint, every word we right, every data set we analyze. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, lets “be the change you wish to see in the world”.
I hope that I have scared and inspired you to change and think differently, and to start anew. By letting compassion and courage drive the decisions you make with the power (data) that you have at your fingertips.
Th The Great Hack. Directed by Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim , Netflix Production, 2019. Netflix, www.netflix.com/title/80117542.
” 7 Fundamental Ethics of Social Media Marketing”, Business 2 Community, June 14, 2016, https://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-fundamental-ethics-social-media-marketing-01571504