The implications of social media on the evolution of human society are enormous. Facebook has nearly one billion members—and is larger than many countries. That is why, when doing social media analytics, business leaders and data analysts must remember that it is not only their goal but their responsibility to be mindful of data privacy. Social media analysts are largely left to self-regulate their analytical activities—in much the same way the social media analytics tool vendors are left to self-regulate their innovations. That is why it is important to also apply ethical principles to social media analytics, to ensure privacy and the application of social media tools and analytics in a way that positively promotes not only global commerce but also human society. I suggest several rules when dealing with social media data, whether behavioral, transactional, qualitative, quantitative, first or third party, and private or anonymous:

  • Be absolutely transparent about what data you collect and how you collect it by creating and frequently updating a privacy and data usage policy and prominently displaying it on your site. Write it in English, not legalese, and keep it simple, comprehensible, and summarized. If needed, link to a more formal legal document.
  • Understand and be able to provide, on request, a list of the tracking and measurement technologies currently deployed on your site. Such a simple idea is hard to execute and deliver—especially at ...

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