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Janalee SilveyNov 30, 2018 2:07:31 PM2 min read

The New Norm in Data and Ethics

bigstock-Usa-March-Facebook-233508301-300x300In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, there has been a lot of conversation regarding the ethics of procuring and maintaining customer data. While legislation overseas is increasing, the United States continues to advocate for self-regulation. This means marketers must take on the burden of self-regulation to ensure their tactics are in line with their organization's mission and values. Here's what marketers can expect in this new era of ethical responsibility: 

Facebook changes its policies frequently, like a child switching up the rules to a game of his own making: a sly update when it’s personally beneficial, a knee-jerk pivot when in trouble. Everyone else—the platform’s users and advertisers—is left scampering and contorting to comply.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal shed a light on the social platform’s inner workings perhaps more than any algorithm or design update prior. The Guardian a​​nd The New York Times found the data firm paid to acquire Facebook users’ personal information through an outside researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, who created a data-harvesting personality quiz app that told users (in fine print) that it was collecting the information for academic purposes—a claim Facebook did not verify and was not true. Although only 305,000 people participated in the quiz and consented to having their data harvested, their friends also had their profiles scraped, bringing the estimated number of those affected to 87 million.

Facebook rescinded the ability to obtain data from friends of consenting users without their permission in 2015, but it’s unclear if companies that engaged in this sort of data collection deleted the information they pulled before the access was denied. The old policy was part of Facebook’s open platform style, which saw CEO Mark Zuckerberg inviting developers to build their apps on the website.

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While marketing enables consumers to receive relevant and useful content, it also opens the door to misuse of their private data. Technology allows us to learn more about consumer habits, behaviors, and interests, but marketers must consider when their tactics are improving the customer experience and when they have crossed a line. In a post Cambridge Analytica world, it is more important than ever that marketers remain vigilant with their efforts to protect confidential consumer data and information. With privacy laws like GDPR getting enforced more strictly, there is little room for error where customer privacy is concerned.

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