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How ethical is digital advertising?

How much time do you think the average person spends on Facebook? Well, if you didn’t know, the answer is 50 minutes per day, which may not seem like a lot, but considering average humans sleep for about 8-9 hours a night, that’s about 1/16 of a persons awake hours.

Now that’s just Facebook.. millions of others spend 1, 2, or even 3 + hours searching the Internet via google or on other social media devices. Therefore, it’s a little alarming that online advertising has no regulations and there exists no record stating who bought the advertisement or how much they spent buying it.

As digital advertising increasingly plays a larger role in political campaigns, the lack of regulations causes more concern. An example of such concerned was highlighted last week when it was revealed that Russian influence operation spent over $100,000 on Facebook during the 2016 elections. This revelation shows a direct negative effect that the lack of regulations leaves our country. The lack of regulations has also caused other concerns. For example, Facebook has recently come under attack for allowing advertisers to target content to users interested in tips such as “Jew haters.”

The direct effects and concerns of relaxed digital advertising does not stop there.  The Guardian states that Facebook and Google now make up 70-75% of political digital advertising sales. Therefore, the growing influence of these major tech companies has also become a concern for many people.

Luther Lowe, the Vice President for public policy at yelp stated in relation to google and facebook’s large control over digital advertising : “this is not standard monopoly abuse… when a dominant information firm abuses its monopoly, democracy and free speech are also undermined because these firms now control how information is accessed and how it flows.”

As a result people have begun to grow concerned over the high level of control that Facebook and Google now have on digital advertising. Although Facebook and Google are two very successful technology companies, I believe, as good corporate citizens, they have an unspoken right to increase their investments in their stakeholder’s by regulating digitalized advertising.

Therefore, I just want to ask the class… as students studying a class about corporate responsibility, do you guys think that Facebook and Google (as good corporate leaders) have a responsibility to regulate their digital advertising?

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/17/dc-eyes-tighter-regulations-on-facebook-and-google-as-concern-grows

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/business/facebook-bends-the-rules-of-audience-engagement-to-its-advantage.

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