Tracking consumer behavior; is it ethical?

Tracking consumer behavior is happening all over the internet. They can track many things about the consumer like what pages they’re visiting, their actions on the page, and bounce rates. Businesses can also track more personal information about the consumer; age, location, what device they’re on, what they’re interested in, and so on. At first glance, these actions by business seem practical because they are analyzing their consumers, to build their brand name; however, whether these actions, of knowing and tracking user behavior in this detail, is ethical is something to consider.

Google Analytics is a cite that shows all the different ways a consumer is being tracked. Putting yourself in the shoes as the consumer and seeing this type of information that is being tracked is rather unsettling.

It is one thing to track consumer behavior on the internet to target them as they may be interested in what you’re putting on the internet; your brand, campaign, and more. Companies are trying to be seen and noticed via presence on the internet, whether they’re targeting a consumer for a product, or trying to rank high in a google search. Therefore, some kind of tracking by the company has to be done to achieve this.

In contrast, as a consumer, I think it is unethical to track and follow a consumers personal information. More specifically their age, how old they are, what device they’re using, what sites they’re visiting, and what they are doing on the sight. In addition, the cookies for a cite can be collected and that consumer is being “followed” throughout their visit on the internet, tracking as the consumer goes from one page to another – in my opinion, that is a violation of privacy. People use the internet for a number of different reasons. It seems unethical to me for a company to have all this knowledge about a consumer who may have possibly ended up on their page on accident.

In conclusion, there are boundaries as to what extent of tracking consumer behavior is ethical versus when it is unethical. I do not think it is ethical for consumers personal information to be tracked as deep as it can be, I feel that violates privacy. On the other hand, I do think it is ethical for some type of tracking to be done – like what the consumer is doing on that specifics business page to gain their interest. I don’t think its necessary to follow a consumer as they journey through the internet or to know what specific device is being used.

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