Building a bad reputation before we even start: Privacy in social media research

[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]You’ve probably heard by now. A global, well-respected market research firm has been accused of accessing social media data which was labeled as private. No less, the data was related to health care and included people’s medical histories and prescription medication use.

For our purposes here, let’s just assume the incident was a hypothetical situation. Besides, who are we to say if any of the released details are true or if I interpreted them properly. What are the consequences of this terribly unfortunate event?

First, this is one more reason for people to distrust market researchers. Forget about being telephoned during the dinner hour or being sent 60 minute online surveys. Now we’re convincing them to distrust social media research before it even really ramps up.

Second, this is one more reason for governments to ignore our pleas for self-regulation. If a huge company like this can’t interpret the MRA and CASRO privacy and permission standards to apply to social media data, how can any other companies be expected to do so?

Third, if government regulations pull the rug out from under us, social media research is going to land in countries of no privacy or respect, countries with few or no regulations to protect the average person. That is very scary. Scarier than I can appreciate.

I don’t know about you but I’m really disappointed. I’m crossing my fingers it’s just a hoax to make us take privacy more seriously.

One response

  1. Karen Landmann

    I agree that we need to get the large market research organizations like MRA and CASRO to define regulations. That would give us a lot more credibility. Privacy is essential but there’s a lot of info out there for use to use legitimately without stepping on people’s toes.

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