Marketing Ethics

If a person politely greets you in the street most probably you would return the greeting. The common word that is used almost everywhere in the world is “Hello!” or “Hi!” or just a smile.

It’s a simple human reaction for individuals to respond to a positive gesture or behavior by opening up with a short let-us-introduce-ourselves conversation. That includes our name, country or occupation or a line about a specific topic. That’s all right up to this point, don’t you agree?

 

Too close too soon

You are walking down the street and a stranger starts asking you questions like:

  • “How do Mondays make you feel like?”
  • “What is your hidden talent?”
  • “What is the best photo of your pet?”
  • “What is the farthest you’ve been from home…?”
  • “Who is your favorite superhero?”
  • “If you could choose to control fire or water, you would rather control…?”
  • “Which was the happiest moment of your life?”
  • “When was the last time you text an ex by mistake?” etc.

 

Would you voluntarily answer these so-called icebreaking questions in real life? I asked 150 people in my network with entirely different backgrounds and all of them replied that they would never go near a person with such an invasive behavior. Wait… but they have already! Where? On Facebook!

 

Mind the gap

Facebook is open 24/7/365. Always online… and connected with billions of people and with advanced AI Softwares and Machines and Statistics and Profiling… Yeap! Every single second it monitors what you like, what you write, with whom you connect or disconnect, which ads you prefer and which brands you follow. It’s part of the new digital transformation era. Is that all?

Statistics and numbers find a hard time to reveal the emotional criteria that affect the decision-making process of an individual. Emojis were created to bridge the huge gap between emotional factors and cold numbers. When a company knows what makes you sad, angry, happy or surprised will use it to engage your attention in favor of their products salability.

We are not here to avoid the elephant in the room. Companies want to make sales. To whom? To us, of course. With every possible way that exists and is used out there and in here, our deepest corners of our minds: our subconscious. Digital marketing is one of the tools that are used to transform a project (i.e. product, service, brand, name etc) into a must-have-it-now-with-whatever-it-takes value.

 

Facebook changed the game

Facebook released the “Did you know” feature on Tuesday 5th December 2017.

It is a new addition to the about section of your Facebook profile. It wasn’t enough that users plugged tones of information into their profile like:

Favorite actors/singers/stars, fashion stylist, celebrities, politicians, movies, TV shows, musicians, books, places, destinations, companies, brands, hobbies, trends, photo albums, jobs, education, (sometimes and income), home address, work address, telephone, directions, notes, personal posts, birthdays, name days, family status, friend status, vacations, party, statements, health status, medical data, medication,  organizations, shops, non profits, causes, games, sports, search results and interests.

Now with the new Did You Know disguised as funny-innocent questions, Facebook is aiming to connect ALL the dots and make each user part of the original capital investment of the company: To own the information. To be the omnipotent single player of the game with enormous power.

“Knowing is owning”

 

Why I never answer Facebook Did You Know questions by Areti Vassou

 

Is your head right?

Shake it up from your system. Stand up and ask yourself: Do I want to get profiled?

Definition of profiling: the recording and analysis of a person’s psychological and behavioral characteristics, so as to assess or predict their capabilities in a certain sphere or to assist in identifying categories of people.

Machines are profiling us with or without our will. Don’t get me wrong, I am into digital technology with all my heart but I support the right of humans to protect their privacy and humanity. There should be limitations about how deep could be allowed to AI systems digging into a person’s digital profile and footprints.

If a person wants to reveal the most intimate parts of his/her life should be up to his/her free will to do so. And not be tricked to answer questions that could eventually damage their safety,  personality, and dignity.

 

The end doesn’t justify the means

Allow me to add a part of Aristotle’s philosophy about free will:

The Pythagoreans, Socrates, and Plato attempted to reunite an element of human freedom with material determinism and causal law. But the first major philosopher to argue convincingly for some indeterminism was Aristotle.

Aristotle in his Physics and Metaphysics noted, among other things, that many decisions were quite predictable based on habit and character, but they were no less free if one’s character itself and predictable habits were developed freely in the past and were changeable in the future.

He believed our deliberations involved choices between alternative possibilities. At a minimum, it was up to us whether to act or not to act, and this implies both the possibility to do otherwise and moral responsibility for our actions.

As a principal architect of the concept of causality and the formulator of the four causes, Aristotle’s statements on indefinite causes are perhaps his most significant contribution to freedom, in the world and in human decisions. (Nichomachean Ethics, III.v.6)

 

Author’s Opinion

People may agree or disagree with our point of view but no one should be exposed to conditions that could eliminate their right to freedom and free will. Those who stay silent in front any action of undermining free will are equally responsible with those that put it at risk.

Facebook changed the game of Marketing but as individuals, we still reserve the right to use our free will and choose whether we want to be profiled or not. We are human beings, not products!

 

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