Is social media monitoring ethical?

Online Social Medias are one of the newest ways for companies to put out information on their products and find out what the public is saying and thinks about them.  An ethical question arises when companies use this ability to track competitors, is it right or wrong to do this. On one side you can say that it is helpful in order to get the customers the best product and give them what they want. The company gets to see what is being said and the public gets to see what all is going on in companies they use.  It could be ethical because everyone gets to view it, it isn’t one company sneaking peaks at others, every company has an equal chance to view competitors.  There are many different websites set up to help monitor the companies that are of interest, such as Radian6.

However on the other side of the argument it can be seen as unethical. Some people can say that information might be put up that doesn’t need to be shared or may make the company look bad. Or that the information is for the consumer, not other companies and putting some information up could give the competitors a step up in the field.  People might use the information in ways that it was not intended.

An example of unethical monitoring could be a company monitoring emails or a Facebook account where a person gets a message from another professional of a different company and the person used the information gathered in a personal way to help their company grow. Even though the information was shared in a private manner, the company took it and used the ideas or knowledge to their advantage.

Then again there is the idea of Monitoring in order to select a future employee. Is it ethical to go on someone’s page and see what they have in their personal life in order to judge how they will be in the corporate world. In Public Relations as well as many corporations your employees are a part of your image. If something embarrassing to the company is found on a page, the entire public will be able to find it and it can be hazardous to the image of the company. But then again, if you are going for a corporate job, why would you put information like that out about yourself for the world to see?

The real ethical question needs to be asked to the people reading and gathering the information they are seeking out about the companies. People know whether what they do is ethical or not, and depending on how they use the information is what will be questioned. If a person uses the information unethically then the monitoring will be seen as unethical and vice verse.

This is what I feel on the subject of ethics in Social media Monitoring. I hope it’s helpful, let me know. And until next time. PEACE.


~ by matidmore on 01/31/2010.

2 Responses to “Is social media monitoring ethical?”

  1. Maybe it is not so much the question of what is ethical and what is not, as it is that many people are not aware of what content they publish online is public. This is a question of how transparent are privacy settings and the awareness of digital identity.

    Lauren Vargas
    Community Manager at Radian6

    • Hi there, thank you for the comment, we are actually using Radian6 in one of my Public Relations classes.

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