Is it ethical to advertise on Facebook ?

Using Facebook is one thing, but advertising on it is quite another. It may mean that you are implicitly endorsing their practices. You’re like a partner in some way. So my question is: Is there an ethical way to use Facebook ads or should the platform be avoided (for advertising) from an ethical perspective. And If so what would be the alternatives?

Sometimes the answer - which sounds simplistic - is just simple instead. No.

What is ethical or not is very subjective. With what we now know about how Facebook conducts her business, and the Facebook user base being still mostly unaware of exactly how they operate, I am inclined to agree with @khkey and say: “No this is not ethical”.

The question is: If your target group can only be effectively reached via Facebook, and the survival of your business depends on reaching them, is advertising on Facebook still something you should do, or not?

An ethical dilemma, if you will…

If you want to work based on high ethical values, and maybe even stand out on that quality, then you should do your utmost to reach your target group in different ways.

If you do decide to use Facebook - maybe because you see no other way - you should do your utmost to be as ethical as possible within that realm. You could do this by being open and transparent in the information you provide (‘This is why we reach out to you’). On your website you could explain your advertising policy and ways in which you target people (‘We do not target individuals based on race, sex. We don’t micro-target you. Etc.’)

And then with those customers / visitors you reach, you could build a smart marketing campaign that makes it less and less necessary to rely on Facebook. Build a community around your service or product, do affiliate marketing, work with influencers, etc, etc.

Note that there are always ethical aspects surrounding any marketing strategy, it is a mixed bag and you have to balance values with needs to generate real revenue.

However much we sometimes dislike it, marketing is here to stay, and even the local market salesman uses marketing (shouting ‘Buy my product, it is cheap and high quality’ to passers-by) to avoid people just walking past his stall.

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It’s a simple business
One businessman created a website, where people produce content themselves and then use it themselves. And the owner of the website just sells to other businessmen access to his users:sheep: for other businessmen to sell those user:sheep: their products.

Thank you for sharing your view, Really appreciate it.

Thank you all for your input.

I am struggling with your first statement. To say ethics are always subjective is self-refuting. What I mean by that is quite simple. If you say that objectively all ethics are subjective you have just made an objective claim about ethics that refutes the very claim that they are subjective. The two claims can’t be equally true.

I too am struggling with the ethics of trying to grow a creative community of photographers on Instagram. Sometimes abstinence is the best answer. I don’t set the rules and if the rules are unethical it’s highly unlikely I can operate within the system without eventually being unethical whether it’s intentional or unintentional.

These are two different statements, and @aschrijver’s was made in the context of trying to decide if advertising on Facebook is ethical behavior.

We can all agree that having ethics–or being ethical–is a social ideal. However, we might disagree about the guidelines needed to judge unethical behavior. For example, I feel that consuming pornography is unethical, but many people do not.

If you want to be ethical on Instagram, you need to learn about the people and situations there. I am on Facebook because my office requires me to be, but over the months, I have learned how to behave in ways that allow me to live with myself. I have reflected on how I interact with others, thought about the posts and comments I make, and so forth. What I do there constitutes the sum of my behavior, and I want that sum to be positive.

In any situation–online or not–you can ask yourself these questions: am I behaving the way I want to and not the way a manipulative force wants me to? what standard is my behavior meeting? is it lower than what I want it to be?