Keynote Panel: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: The Nitty Gritty of Social Media Monitoring
Valery Miftakhov, McKinsey & Company; Eric Schwartzman, Schwartzman & Associates, Inc.
The first session this morning was a keynote panel discussing social media monitoring. Given my focus with social media research, I was keenly interested to hear their perspective. The panel was set up as a question and answer session and since the panel had representation from Nielsen via Schwartzman and Miftakhov, I took the opportunity to ask about the Buzzmetrics situation wherein information was gathered from behind a password protected website. I asked the panel to comment on the topic, and to indicate whether they had read the MRA/IMRO guidelines that were released last week, and whether they would endorse those guidelines.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t terribly satisfied with the answer. Their points included that they had changed some of their practices, that the internet is a public place available for crawling, that people want their opinions heard, and that the website owners were only upset because they wanted to sell the data themselves [how is that a valid argument for accessing a password protected site?].
I did not hear them say that they were apologetic about the situation. They did not say that they had or would read the MRA/IMRO guidelines. They did not say that they would endorse the MRA/IMRO guidelines.
It didn’t sound like they were familiar with Jeffrey Henning’s research on participant privacy wherein many people didn’t really realize their data was being gathered and that some people felt violated.
I didn’t get the sense that they understood the premise that researchers are in a position of power that requires them to understand rules and ethics even if research participants do not understand or do not care to understand.
And though they indicated that quality companies respect password protected sites, I didn’t get the sense that they had truly internalized how serious the situation was from a person’s point of view, not a researcher’s or technologist’s or data collector’s or business owner’s point of view.
Postscript: I spoke with them after the presentation. They indicated that they were not aware of the MRA/IMRO guidelines until I mentioned it to them but they would review and comment on them. I look forward to hearing a response.
Many thanks to so many people who pulled me aside and whispered “I’m so glad you asked that.” As we heard in the second session this morning, if good researchers don’t speak up about bad research, we all lose credibility.
Please ignore the video but do listen to the audio. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Conversition Strategies Social Media Research: By researchers, For researchers