Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Ethics of Social Networks

As I was surfing the net tonight, I found myself on Yahoo's website. I usually go on to Yahoo to look around for clues in popular culture and the latest news. Some of the stories and news summaries can put me to sleep, however there was one that I saw that caught my eye and made me realize how much it pertains to class and even to my own life. It was about the webpage MySpace, which I know we're talked to death along with Facebook. But c'mon there is just so much to say about these social networks! I mean, these are very new and modern advances, leaving adults and parents very uncomfortable as we live in such an internet dependent period. They don't quite understand what we do on the internet all day. Even more so they don't understand if these sites are safe. Yet this news piece argues that parents felt the same way when rock music came out. The new and unfamiliar can be scary.

However, this is not what the article is about. It touches upon how advertisers love these new social networks because it gives them another outlet to advertise to the youth. We have talked about advertising enough in class to understand the progression that has taken place within the field towards word of mouth. They cited an example which rang very familiar to me, as it should to all of you. It was about how News Corp owns both MySpace and 20th Century Fox and so therefore they posted a profile about the new X-men 3 movie on MySpace. This is just what M80 did for Stewie for the Family Guy promotion. It makes the users of these social networks feel like they are even more connected to the world as a whole, not just to other college students or people their own age.

These social networks are really just second nature to us now, although I am sure there are people who stay away from it as to not jump on the bandwagon. I will say I was once one of them too. If somehow you are a rookie to Facebook, even Sports Illustrated has written up a small instructional guide on how to cruise the site which only allows college kids. It really is crazy to think of how far these sites have come in terms of popularity. MySpace is now second to Yahoo in web sites that are most frequently viewed!

The article also speaks with Shawn Gold, who is the senior vice president of content and marketing for MySpace, and he says that this is where advertisers go to market and to open up the doors for their product or promotion. Due to the fact that we do allow an awful lot of information to be on our profiles for anyone to see, these companies can tap into these databases to better tailor their product to the appropriate audience! This reminds me a little of the conversation we had in class a while ago about if it was ethical for Northeastern staff to be looking at our blogs and commenting on them etc. As always word of mouth marketing has its ethical debate.

However when it comes to profiles such as MySpace, you really are allowing the world to see you, or who you want people to perceive you as. Therefore, I think it's fair game.



Sapphiregurl said...

I don't know if you have noticed but every now and again when I sign into Facebook an ad or two will pop up. The one thing that I really used to enjoy about this site is that pop-ups didn't pop up when I clicked into and there was little advertising associated with the site. Now it seems as time goes on, more and more advertisements are on the site and most of them are tailored to our interests like you said.

And it is true what you said about these sites becoming very popular, it seems like in virtually no time these sites have been on the news and more frequently talked about. I have to agree that it is scary to think that we make this information so readily available often not thinking that there are people out there that we don't even know reading stuff about us. I personally don't have a myspace account for this reason. Although I do have a Facebook account, I am careful about what I put on there and who I allow to view it. And you're right, if we choose to put it out there for the world to see, it is fair game and we should be the ones monitoring what we put on there for this reason alone.

Kennie Swanson said...

Wow, I have known about the recent marketing trends with Myspace and other social networking sites, but I never thought that companies can use these sites to specifically tailor their advertising to our individual interests. I think this is really cool and really scary at the same time. I do think that they have every right to do this because people are making their lives publicly available for them. I wonder how this new information will shape the ways marketers try to reach individuals. Will future advertisements have the capacity to be individually specialized based on your interests? Will advertisements you watch mirror your own lives? These are all very interesting things to think about.

DavetheRave said...

As Dave Balter said in his presentation people are the next platform. Along with this comes the idea of Internet communities such as facebook and myspace must move toward a more real life experience.

FrankBenway said...

With regard to the safety of children on Myspace, many of you have probably heard in the news the last couple days that Myspace is taking actions to protect children on their site. With this development, Myspace is no longer allowing adults (18+) to be on the friend lists or view the profiles of members who are 14 or 15 years old. However, this of course requires the honesty of the children who need to post their correct age online so that they are protected. I definitely have some reservations as to how effective this new policy will be, but it is certainly a step in the right direction towards protecting children on the internet.