Ethics in Social Media: Managing Data and Consent

Kristy LaPlante Insight DCS Ethics in Social Media

Ethics in Social Media: Managing Data and Consent

Do you remember when Social Media networks existed solely for the benefit of users? In the early days of social — think Six Degrees in 1997, or Friendster in 2002 — these platforms served the singular purpose of providing people with digital communities to share their ideas and just stay in touch with one another. Today, social platforms are used far less often for personal connections and more often for conducting business, making purchase decisions, viewing entertainment programming, and staying up-to-date on news and current events.


As a result of this behavioral shift, social media channels are generating an enormous amount of data. An April 2019 study from the World Economic Forum1 found that every single day, the following are generated:

  • 4 petabytes (i.e., 4 million gigabytes) of new data on Facebook
  • 500 million tweets on Twitter
  • 65 billion WhatsApp messages
  • 5 billion searches


The transparent nature of the channel and sheer volume of data created through digital and social media requires marketers to operate today in a manner that is equally ethical and values-based. Colorado AMA has compiled the following list to make sure that you approach all of your marketing activities with confidence:


  1. Actively manage user consent, starting now. Marketers don’t have to wait for legislators and global regulatory agencies to define consent and take action. Simple updates to your Privacy Policy and Terms of Use are easy to activate for your customers. Also, make sure you have a live Preference Center that enables your first-party customers and constituents to select the type and frequency of messages they want to see from you across all marketing channels. These steps not only protect you, the marketer, from potential legal ramifications of mismanaged data but also builds valuable trust with your customers, sustaining mission-critical revenue for your business over time.


  1. Manage your data with the right technology. With such massive amounts of data created so frequently, marketers need to be able to analyze and understand that data effectively. Data management systems help marketers to increase productivity, improve collaboration across teams, make wise business decisions, and communicate messages to both internal stakeholders and customers. Marketers should look for cloud-based data mining and analytical technologies that effortlessly integrate data across multiple systems, thereby creating a centralized location that can be used to uncover valuable information about their customers.


  1. Design and implement a Data Governance model. With so many critical marketing decisions being made across a variety of digital platforms, data needs to be consistent, easily understood, and reliable. This is where data governance comes in. A strong data governance model defines a set of processes and procedures to keep all of the data managed within an organization consistent and provides your entire business with an agreed-upon contingency plan to quickly mitigate any unwanted data leaks or breaches. By building a robust data governance plan and soliciting executive sponsorship of that plan today, marketers can avoid a myriad of potential future stresses.


While these principles apply to all types of data across an organization, it’s really the social media managers of a business who are held to task on proper data management by both internal teams and external customers. By stepping up and acting as stewards of proper data management and governance, social marketers can lead their companies towards safe, sustainable, and stress-free futures.

– Written by Kristy LaPlante, CEO at Insight Digital Consulting



Kristy LaPlante