September 24, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli return to JayVee Media Link LLC
There have been a number of social media news stories over the past couple of weeks that have brought the issue of privacy back into focus. Businesses that have offline relationships with Facebook-using customers are now able to access those users’ profiles in order to target advertising messages to them. Mobile marketers are making use of GPS software to customize apps for specific deals triggered by a person’s geolocation. And of course we can’t forget the pilot program called Facedeals – cameras mounted at the entrances of stores that record people’s faces, check to see if they have approved the Facedeal app on Facebook, and then use that information to target instant ads to them. These new capabilities must be a marketer’s dream come true; the internet allows access to more consumer data than was ever possible before. But at what point does it become apparent even to the marketer that a line has been crossed? And what option does a consumer have to protect his/her privacy from those prying eyes?
SO MUCH of our personal information is floating around in cyberspace these days. It is virtually impossible to guarantee anonymity. While we can’t insulate ourselves completely, we can take steps to limit access to our private information. Ultimately, we are responsible for remaining vigilant.
It is very easy to let our guards down while cruising around on our social media sites. When we do, we risk divulging more personal information than we should. Even if we are talking to trusted friends, we must remember that the forums can be seen by other people we probably don’t know so well. Would you shout private information to a friend across a crowded room full of strangers? If not, then you shouldn’t do it on a Facebook or Twitter page, either.
Many social media users are unaware of the ways to change their settings for increased privacy. The steps are not difficult, as they follow a menu driven order. The trick is knowing where to look for the settings. In Twitter, we can access them from our profile pages. Click “Edit your profile.” A list appears in the left column with a series of choices. Click “account.” Go down the list of settings, changing whichever ones will yield the desired level of privacy. Save changes when done. We can repeat this procedure for any other setting listed in the left column under “account,” making changes wherever we desire. For each menu we change, save before exiting. In Facebook, click the arrow to the right of the “home” button at the top of the page. Click on “Privacy Settings.” There we find an explanation of all the levels of privacy we can enact, and are given the chance to do so. Save all changes before exiting.
It is important to remember that changing our privacy settings is not an airtight solution. It gives us an edge; it is NOT a guarantee. We still must remain vigilant about what we share. The safest rule to guide us: remember that once we click the share button we lose complete control over a post. It takes only one person to save it, and its fate is out of our hands.
One further suggestion: consider a paid email service. Most are inexpensive; for that small investment they will not use or sell email addresses or other personal information. Services are “free” for a reason. They monitor our inboxes and keep track of our personal preferences in order to target ads to us. They also place their ads all over our emails for THEIR advertising purposes.
Is it odd that a person working in the social media field would take such an interest in protecting people’s personal information? I am receptive to the many ways unfolding everyday that allow us to more accurately target our marketing messages to potential consumers. But I also feel there is a point where the information mining becomes too intrusive. That line should not be crossed.
What are your feelings regarding all the new methods to collect personal information in the name of social media target marketing? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.