Online Ethics #Fails
The internet is a beautiful place for businesses, yet many users risk spoiling it because they fail to understand online ethics. With the EU/ACTA quickening the pace to clamp down online privacy, sharing and freedom of expression; these actions are now under the spotlight.
I have a question – would you walk into someone’s house and add your collection of family photos to their mantlepieces and sideboards?
No. Of course you wouldn’t. After all it’s their home for them to furnish with their own items. So why is it ok to ‘furnish’ someone else’s Facebook page with your items?
When it comes to the internet (and Facebook), it seems a growing number of businesses are happy to self-advertise on other business pages. To analyse the extend of this practice, I asked a selection of business owners if this is something they do and if they feel it is ok.
Here are the responses:
- “I hate when people do that tina. I had a big argument with someone about it last week, when they posted on my wall after I signed up for their website. I would never advertise my business on anyone elses page ever.
- “I know some people don’t mind but in general I think that businesses object to it. I regularly advertise other businesses on my page that I know or have used, but don’t want them to come on an advertise themselves without asking first. In general I will delete the post and ban the business. That might sound harsh, but that’s how I feel.”
- “If I were to post an ‘advertisement’ on someone’s page who isn’t connected to me, and that you were doing it to draw their attention to my work because you happened to like a piece – I think that kind of advertising/recommendation would be acceptable, because it is specific to the person you intended it for even though others would see it.”
- “Not unless it was agreed with the other page owner first.”
- “I think it would be unacceptable if I were to post on someone’s page if I’m not connected to them. I think it would be discourteous and totally unacceptable to do it that way.”
- “I dont like doing it deliberatly, like just posting a link to another page and no interaction with the other business. However if there is interaction with the other page owner(even though you know people are only doing it to advertise themselves) I don’t mind that.”
- “We’ve promoted it on our page but my fault I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to FB – its a bit hit & miss especially dreading the new format too!”
- “I think it would irritate the other person if you just landed a post on their wall without asking first. Unless you have a dependent relationship whereby you get on like beans and toast e.g. youTube advertises for iTunes. Music is then just a click away. That kind of posting on another person’s page is acceptable, the beans on toast kind!”
- “To be honest I would not do that. I feel it’s a real sneaky way to advertise your own business. I know people can figure out that’s exactly what you were trying to do.”
- “I had to have a think about this because initially I would say no. But, I’ve done it. It depends on how it’s done really. I do it by connecting with the page so to speak, by having a similar audience and common interests. I think we should both get something out of a post so maybe some of my ‘people’ will like their page and vice versa.”
As you can see, the views are mixed. Responses range from outrage to acceptance, to a lack of knowledge of what they’re doing, to doing it themselves.
The ethics of conducting business online are subjective – that’s a certainty. Low barriers mean easy access. Now, I believe that many of the businesses who gave me the responses above, truely feel that their decisions are justified and that there is value to both parties when self advertising. In the eyes of Facebook for example – this is deemed to be spamming (excellent post by Amanda Webb on Facebook postings policies and spamming, worth a read here).
The real question is – is this considered a social norm and should we just accept it if we don’t share their views? Should we be helping those conducting business online to analyse their behaviour and promote a more ethical experience?
As you pause to answer the questions above, you might like to read these.
More Online Ethics #fails:
- Constantly clicking a sponsered advert (Google / Facebook) to use up a competitor’s budget and (with the result of no sales).
- Competitors following other competitor feeds with a view to ‘under-cutting’ them or copying their updates and blog post ideas.
- Employees writing positive reviews and comments on blogs and review websites just because they are employees.
- Uploading videos and naming them something completely different (this has been known to happen with children’s cartoons actually being adult videos).
Are these acceptable? What are your thought on self-advertising on other business pages? Are you ethical online?