I believe that targeting children by food companies and adolescents and youth by alcohol and tobacco industry is not an ethical approach both in terms of psychology and business ethics. The first reason is that a lot of these industries do it utilizing modern technologies, such as “unregulated medium of mobile devices” (Troianovsky, 2012) in form of apps, which due to their interactive design stimulate the memory and raise the effectiveness of this marketing.
Overloading the mind of young people with emerging needs and perception with excessive information distracts them from valuable information, and generates what we could call information waste. Yet another reason why this is unethical is because in that age, people usually are less critical in their perception of the surrounding things. Interacting with the brands, children and adolescents get emotionally connected with them, which creates unfair comparative advantage of one brand against the others. Finally, promoting alcohol and tobacco among under-age is pushing them towards unhealthy mode of life.
Speaking about the practice of data targeted marketing plan utilized by Facebook and some other companies, I think that generally targeted web advertising is not a malignant phenomenon if it is limited only to customer’s marketing interests. However, the intervention of companies into offline life creates certain dangers and its ethics is questionable. Since the companies would know a type of phone, retail purchases, places of shopping, browsing history and public data (Rusli, 2013), it establishes a serious problem of anonymity.
The major problems here are potential invasion, which could not be appreciated by numerous users, and data security, which sets a danger of potential use of the gathered data for criminal purpose, in case of their leakage. Even avoiding the criminal usage, these gathered data could be used by someone to get a complex picture of a person, leading to prejudice, discrimination, refusal of jobs or mortgages due to perceived “high risk” (McFarland, 2012). Thus I believe that such practice should be limited.
McFarland, M. (2012). Ethical Implications of Data Aggregation. Santa Clara University. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/technology/internet/privacy/data-aggregation.html
Rusli, E. (2013). Buy Signal: Facebook Widens Data Targeting. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324504704578412960951909032
Troianovski, A. (2012). Child's Play: Food Makers Hook Kids on Mobile Games. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444812704577605263654758948