Discussion Information Gathering and Ethics in Marketing

Ethics in Marketing

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What ethical dilemmas do marketing professionals face in gathering information on customer bases through smartphones and social media?

With the current increase in content marketing, advertisers and brand marketers have found a bunch of opportunities to reach and engage their respective audiences. Consumers are at liberty and have the power of inviting potential suitors. There are some ethical challenges that present themselves with the discovery of consumer freedom of selecting whomever they want to befriend and whatever that they want to read. The internet users have to adapt their information filtering for there is no vetting of information by any journalistic standard.

The list of ethical dilemmas is ever growing due to the violations of privacy, general creepiness, cyberbullying and misinterpretation. The arrival of relatively open social media platforms which are broad reaching has led to consumers paying the price of vulnerability to deception and online scams. It is the reason behind the much attention being turned to social media ethics. Protection of privacy and trustworthiness is the heart of the ethical dimensions regarding social media use. Discussed below are the various ethical dilemmas marketing professionals face when collecting customer-based information from social media and smartphones.

Actions which infringe the privacy of participants of social networking, either knowingly or unknowingly, are considered to be unethical if potential harm is caused to the users’ professional and personal credibility. These actions include non-permissive approaches used by marketers and advertisers to share sensitive information or disclose personal profile information via the social media channels resulting in not only exploitation but also causing harm to the users’ standing.

  • Invasion of privacy.

When unsolicited messages are overpromoted, they become viewed as unethical because of the manner in which broadcasting of the messages is done. The participants in social media get deceived by spamming trails of Facebook and Twitter links. Opportunities of much useful information are cluttered up by such unwanted messages.

  • Spamming.

It is considered unethical to disparage other users, e.g., competitors, of social media in your account because negative sentiments go viral quickly with no permission of good rebuttals. Such defenseless attacks not only run the risk of libelous lawsuits but also damages one’s reputation if not appropriately founded.

  • Public bashing.

The rapid growth of crowdsourcing and Facebook contests in soliciting ideas of design, the participants in the competitions run the risks of exposing their secrets unrewarded. Design ideas are supposed to be rewarded social network sponsors with partners who are the more profitable, and this leaves many users unrewarded. It is unethical because the social media sponsors are collecting design ideas that they don’t plan to compensate.

  • Misuse of contests and free expertise.

It is also unethical to misinterpret one’s expertise, affiliations, and credentials. Fake consumer stories of product use, for instance, has severely damaged a lot of reputable companies. Hiring folks to fabricate stories or give favorable comments regarding the company’s services by marketers and advertisers is considered unethical.

  • Improper anonymity and distorted endorsements.

Transparency in communication is the core intention of social media. Comments which seem to be untruthful and dishonest can typically jeopardize the company’s reputation.

  • Dishonesty and distortions.


Barry, J. (2014). 7 Ethical Dilemmas Faced in Content MarketingEdutainment. Retrieved 2 December 2017, from http://blog.socialcontentmarketing.com/7-ethical-dilemmas-faced-in-social-media-marketing/

Hanks, G. (2017). E-Business Ethical Issues on Selling Personal InformationSmallbusiness.chron.com. Retrieved 2 December 2017, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/ebusiness-ethical-issues-selling-personal-information-65718.html

Lunday, J. (2010). Managing the Workplace Ethics of Social MediaCorporate Compliance Insights. Retrieved 2 December 2017, from http://www.corporatecomplianceinsights.com/managing-the-workplace-ethics-of-social-media/