Twitter just got served with a class action lawsuit, seeking as much as $100 for every person in the United States who sent or received a direct message through the social media site. The suit claims that, for advertisement purposes, Twitter intercepted private messages, read those messages, and often altered the content of those messages. Specifically, the suit claims that Twitter altered the links included in direct messages to route the recipient through Twitter to view links, thereby boosting their ability to command higher rates for advertising.
Yes, that could very well mean that Twitter manipulated their advertising rates, and if Twitter is part of your ad strategy, you likely paid more than you would have without this little scam. But that isn't the point of this article. What needs to be illustrated is what everyone in the marketing and advertising world can learn from Twitter's alleged snafu. Here are your takeaways.
Avoid Excessive Greed
As of last year, Twitter was worth an estimated $23 billion. Currently, its stocks are trading at over $25 per share, and that value is only expected to climb. Was it really necessary to cheat customers and advertisers? Absolutely not, and there won't be many crying 'foul' if the company gets bashed hard financially with this (or another) lawsuit. Moral to the story: don't be greedy. Nobody likes big, greedy companies that take advantage of people.
Respect Your Customers and Their Privacy
Since people seem to be so willing to sacrifice their privacy to share intimate details of their lives via social media and consent to give up their personal information for modern conveniences, marketers might mistakenly assume that people don't really value it. But that isn't the case. Though they submit to giving up their private information, they do so begrudgingly and do not respect businesses that don't take their privacy and security seriously. Don't be that (marketing) guy.
Stay Ahead of Federal, State, and Industry Regulations Regarding Privacy
Twitter is being sued by a resident of the state of Texas, but the complaint was brought forth in the state of California, where Twitter is headquartered. Be aware of the federal, state, and industry regulations that govern the type of data you collect. For example, data that is not ordinarily covered by HIPAA regulations (like whether or not they have too much job stress or feel that their job is affecting their health) do become protected by HIPAA when that information is discussed with a licensed medical practitioner. Know the laws and stay well clear of the okay side of those laws and regulations.
In the age of data, marketing data is useful, powerful, and plentiful. But if misused or abused, data and data collection could damage you legally, financially, and in the eye of your valued customers. Twitter may have to learn the hard way, but you don't have to.
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