When I was thinking about how to answer this question, something occurred to me. The question of ethics isn’t black and white. I understand social monitoring and why companies and organizations participate in it. Social monitoring is a way for companies and organizations to track how the public views them. Companies can look and see if they were mentioned in a blog, a tweet, a video or any mix of things. It is basically like “Google-ing” themselves to see what people are saying.
I completely understand why companies are doing this and the various ways they can benefit from the information they receive but in the grand scheme of things, I can’t say if it is ethical or not. To me, social monitoring is like listening in on a conversation you weren’t invited to be a part of. It is almost like spying on people just to hear what they are saying about you. But on the other hand, everyone knows the Internet isn’t a private thing. So, if someone chooses to post their opinions on a blog for example then they should realize that they are posting it out there for the entire world to see. Companies may be taking advantage to people’s privacy but at the same time these people should know that if they are putting it in the Internet than privacy doesn’t apply.
Personally, I don’t know whether social monitoring is ethical or not. I can see both side of the spectrum and frankly they are both a little gray. I understand social monitoring, why it is done and why companies benefit from it but at the same time, I don’t know if it is ethical. There are many other factors to consider other than is it ethical or not. Companies would have to consider their mission and values and after that the decision would be theirs alone to make.