Out of the Box | Where are the Ethics in Digital Marketing?

I have learned a lot during this course. All the material has been informative. The course material has lead me to spend a lot of time in search engines looking for more information.

My searches have taken me down many website rabbit holes. I have learned about tools I didn’t even know existed. What I have been thinking about the most is how tools are used.

Some companies collect vast amounts of personal data. I think we know this about the big tech firms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. What I did not realize is that there are data companies that are building massive databases of user information that gets used for targeted marketing. The most famous example is Cambridge Analytica, who claimed to have over five thousand data-points on millions of American voters. This data was collected without user knowledge. Cambridge Analytica was hired by a political party in the US to influence voters. They did this by targeting swing voters with negative ads. This ties into a lot of issues around transparency, privacy and truth.

The number of things digital marketing companies know about me was surprising. Google and Facebook both allow you to download the raw data that has been collected about you. We do not understand how this data is used or what our profiles look like.

Recently there has been an increase in public discussion around how marketing companies collect and use our data. The European Union has implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). There is no comparable regulation in the Americas yet.

The next few years will see a rise in discussions around the ethics involved in marketing, data collection, application design and application development.

I hope that soon, the ethics of how social media marketing are discussed in programs like this one. It is not the role of an educational institution to dictate ethics; however, it would be nice to see at least a mention that there are concerns that should be taken into consideration when developing marketing strategies.

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