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Analyze the Ethical Issues Involved in Social Media Use and How to Address Them

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Autor:   •  August 28, 2011  •  Essay  •  748 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,331 Views

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Social media presents new and innovative opportunities with regard to marketing communications. Regrettably, the media resources in Social networking web sites pose a risk to the participants as personal data is extracted for the purpose of market research. Further, corporations who utilize data gleaned from social media databases are faced with ethical questions previously unchallenged by conventional marketing dogma. Security concerns, creditability and privacy issues in addition to maintaining the corporation's reputation each presents a specific and critical variable; all which need to be factored into communications and marketing plans utilizing information obtained from social media outlets.

What is the corporation's responsibility once publicly available personal information is obtained from social media channels? Once an individual composes a public profile on a web-based service consisting of highly identifiable personal information, including the articulation of a list of persons with whom they share similar likes and dislikes, the individual assumes the information is solely for the purpose of extending his or her social network. However, social media has now become the future of data mining for many consumer-driven corporations. The social network is being utilized to extract personal information and companies utilize the information to extend their respective marketing networks. Typically, the user of the social media is completely oblivious to the passing of the personal information from the individual's private profile to the corporation's marketing database. Once the information enters the company's possession, what is the organization's responsibility to protect the data from exploitation? Identity theft has become an exponentially prolific crime and easy access to unsecure data presents ethical and legal challenges to the marketer who wittingly or unwittingly allows information in the company's charge to become fodder for unscrupulous criminals. Companies utilizing personal data that can be misused by Identity Theft criminals have an exceptionally high ethical burden to protect the information. The company utilizing personal data for marketing research and communications while vigorously protecting the data from ill use will retain the confidence of the consumer and bolster public confidence in the organization's business practices.

According to Venable LLP on Online Marketing Law, Social media outlets expose corporations to exceptional liability with respect to compliance to legal terms and conditions of Social media outlets, "Social networking websites generally have terms and conditions in place that govern the use of their sites. Some sites' terms and conditions contain provisions specifically regulating advertising and other commercial practices conducted on the site, including consumer sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways." (Venable, LLC, When


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