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Clear Up the Blurred Lines of Social Media Use

August 8, 2013

A quick search on Twitter of some keywords will bring up a handful of tweets from people who received a crisp dollar bill from Arbitron as an incentive to keep track of their radio listening. Receiving cold hard cash in the mail or being asked to wear a meter that is reminiscent of an early ‘90s pager is kind of exciting. It’s exciting enough that many people would want to tweet about it … or share it on Facebook … or post it to Tumblr.

The vast number of ways a social media user can express themselves to the world has made Arbitron’s quest for anonymity a serious headache.

In Policy Brief issued by Arbitron in March 2013, the company explained its efforts in trying to protect the identity of respondents. According to Arbitron, social media sites, such as Twitter, are monitored on a daily basis. Arbitron is looking for those respondents who tweet about how the whole family is excited to wear a meter or about the diary they received in the mail.  What may seem like a harmless tweet from a respondent could actually result in their meters being taken away.

Finding a family with meters on Twitter might seem like a gold mine for a radio station. However, not reporting the find to Arbitron may not be worth it. Arbitron may decide to take action against any station that does not comply with its rules on social media use. This is where the list of “Dos and Don’ts” from the Policy Brief previously mentioned is crucial. The list stresses the importance of having absolutely no contact with the respondents. A station should not try to reach out to them in any way. But also a station should report to Arbitron if the broadcaster can identify a respondent by any means.

With each new way we are able to connect to one another comes a few blurred lines in the rule book. To clear things up a little, here is a complete list of Arbitron’s “Social Media Dos and Don’ts:” http://www.arbitron.com/downloads/social_media_dos_donts.pdf

-Alex George, Production Coordinator

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