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Why is everyone monitoring everything we do on Social Media?


Social Media is proving to be the most powerful substitute to Market Research!
Brands, Individuals, Analysts, Researchers, and Products are taking the Social Media Route for insights.
B2B companies, who may not benefit a lot with their Social Media Presense, are also venturing on the Web, creating properties that support their existence. Take for example the PAL property created by Suzlon in India. Its about Pure Air Lovers Society, where Suzlon will plant 1 tree for every member who joins this cause!
Globally, there any hundreds of MNCs that have started such campaigns that works toward social good. There are a few initiatives started by students, youth, and organizations to spread awareness of a Safer, Sustainable Planet! Companies can benefit in many ways: Their goodwill increases, they start understanding the audience sentiments, they can spread awareness of a few causes, and in turn, get an idea of what the people want. In short, its a nice way to build a credible database of relevant Netizens.
On the other side of the horizon, we have monitoring tools, who scrutinize every move, comment, mention, tweet, blog, content, and sentiment Online. These tools, probably thousands by now, help brands evaluate the Social Media effort and Social ROI. They seem to track every bit of our social presence!
It is true that individuals can customize their privacy settings and make their content publicly available, but the question is: Why are so many tools monitoring everything possible that is shared publicly? Where is the integrity?
As a marketer, I like analyzing my Brands, finding out the mentions, and understanding what the user needs. But, as a User, I am a little scared of posting anything publicly, as I know that my words would go to somebody's Desk in a few minutes, where the analyst would compile huge amount of data and give recommendations to his/her clients.
We belong to the category of Internet Users who know how far these tools can peep into our publicly available data. But there are millions of Internet users who have no idea that their content is being monitored in real-time. These innocent souls share private content on their Networking Sites, and are completely unaware of the extent to which they will be analyzed!
It is amazing how tools like Addictomatic or Mind Meister or other sentiment analysis tools make create a tag cloud or a map or a list of keywords shared by users. On the other hand, its shocking that they can access user data for their in-depth analysis. 
Research companies like Nielsen have concluded that the time spent on Social media has surpassed e-mail! Majority of the Research Firms have begun monitoring social media, ad even they feel it is the best source of information available on the Web.
Another space where monotiring gets easy is the Mobile Space! With the advent of Smartphones across the world, more particularly in the Developing countries, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, and Apple are now able to keep a track of their users second by second! Thw world of Apps has really been revolutionary in its own sense. Nothing is impossible today, and these apps redefine the statement that the world is just a click away!
Google and Facebook, with their excellence, database, expertize, and resources, may be having the world's most comprehensive insights. If they continue to grow with their current rates, chances are that their database would be stronger than the database maintained by the Governments of all the nations.
The more interesting aspect of such a database is that the thousands of Monitoring tools are accessing this data in their own innovative ways, and can be threatening to the existence of social media.
Already a few nations have started controlling and monitoring these Web sites due to their threatening nature, and in the nearer future, there will be more countries that would pause information being shared publicly.
The questions that run in my mind are:
  1. As a user, who can assist me and tell me "How much to share Online"?
  2. Who can tell me "where should I stop, and When"?
  3. How are these Social Media Monitoring Tools accessing such data?
  4. Who monitors the data captured by these tools?
  5. Is there a governing body that has the power to restrict the use of User's sensitive information?
  6. How to inform user that their actions are getting monitored every second?
  7. What can be done if the data gets in the wrong hands?

I feel Websites like SocialMediaTodayMashableiMediaconnectionEconsultancy should stand up, and start working with their experts to answer these questions, as they are the powerhouses of Digital Media!

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