Does Your Social Media Policy Cover Listening Ethics?

Does your social media policy tell your employees the boundaries they should stay within when hiring social listening, monitoring or mining vendors? Probably not, but it definitely should.

angel-devilNone of the policies in my database of more than 150 policies, templates and guidelines provide guidance to employees on the ethical use of social listening, harvesting, mining, monitoring, or scraping — which are a few of the terms used to describe the process of gathering and processing online social data. As a result, many employees who buy or manage listening tools and social research services don’t even realize that they could be exposing their company to significant brand risk by using social monitoring or mining services that practice questionable data harvesting and processing techniques.

The simple reality is that no industry standards exist, so the boundaries are probably unclear to your employees. But the Wall Street Journal and Gartner recently began to discuss the risks to your brand, and, as a result, relevant industry organizations such as CASRO formed a task force to define industry standards for ethics in social media research and analysis.

In the mean time, it is important that leaders determine the ethics we wish our teams to uphold, and communicate those ethics across the organization through our policies and guidance to our people.

To begin, my team at Converseon recently published Five Ethics Questions for Your Listening Vendor, and Nathan Giliatt published nine Ethical Standards for Listening Vendors.

2 Responses to Does Your Social Media Policy Cover Listening Ethics?

  1. Stephan Fink November 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Good aspect, becoming more and more relevant with all these nice datamining and Social Media analytics tools. Especially in my home-country Germany the potential conflicts with our strong dataprotection-laws are constantly increasing. Our responsible government people and state or corprorate “Dataprotection-officers” (we are obliged to have these) focus on the gaps between the features of facebook, google, … and our legal restrictions. Since month to topic becomes more and more a conference and media issue.

  2. Barb Chamberlain December 6, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

    An important topic for public agencies and institutions as well, particularly if we collect information that could become the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request.