A Guide to Social Media and Privacy

Privacy has become a priority for consumers across digital channels. Many want to protect their data and are becoming more careful about what they share on social media and who they share it with.

This presents a challenge to social media managers, business owners and content creators who run social media pages to engage with and convert customers. In addition, many countries have introduced regulations and rulings that affect marketers and require action to ensure compliance.

So how can companies manage data privacy across social media platforms? In this guide, we’ll look at the most common privacy issues, and important social media privacy laws, and tell you how to be compliant to protect and build trust with your customers.

What are common social media privacy issues?

A new Cisco report ‘Building Consumer Confidence Through Transparency and Control’ found that 86 percent of consumers “care about data privacy” and want more control while 79 percent are willing to invest time or money to better protect their privacy.

To be compliant, you need to understand the most common privacy issues that impact social media channels. Ultimately it’s about protecting and valuing the data of your customers and avoiding a social media crisis that would bring disrepute to your company.

Data mining

Data mining is a way for companies to gather information using automated computer systems that sort through information to identify trends and patterns. It’s often used to examine people’s behavior based on past purchases, location, content preferences, or events such as birthdays.

Sources of data that can be used are:

  • Websites
  • Social media
  • Apps
  • Mobiles or smartphones
  • Internet of Things

The advantage of data mining is that it helps you make sense of raw unstructured data that can be used to target customers. It can also allow you to make predictions on how your customers may behave so you can tailor your messaging and content more effectively.

What’s important for social media managers is to use a method of data gathering that’s compliant with laws. For example, EU laws specify certain restrictions on how you can gather data (check out the definitive GDPR checklist for marketers to find out more).

Ensure that any data you collect and use has been given with explicit consent and in full compliance with any applicable privacy laws (for example, create a privacy page if you don’t already have one). You also need to ensure the data is secure throughout all stages of the process from collection to storage, analysis, and deletion.

Data breach

If a company is hacked, one of the compromised things is customer data and one source of that may be social media. Individuals provide a lot of information on social media such as marital status, location, preferences, and job role.

According to an article by the BBC entitled ‘How your personal data is being scraped from social media’, a hacker named Tom Liner compiled a database of 700 million LinkedIn users from all over the world, which he put up for sale for around $5,000 (£3,600; €4,200). This incident sparked concerns about better data protection across social media.

To protect customers from data breaches on social media, you need to use intrusion detection and prevention systems. If you have an IT team or external support, ensure there are systems and processes in place to track and manage potential breaches.

If you are the victim of a breach, tell your customers straight away. You need to be open and transparent to maintain your reputation and keep customers.

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