Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, …. The list of social networks on which you can advertise for the good cause is long. You probably also have an account in one or more networks and inform yourself there. edudea is not on any of the major networks. We would even recommend not to run a site there! What are our reasons? On the one hand legal problems and on the other hand general problems with advertising networks. We’ll explain that now.

One foot in prison? What?

You may have noticed that schools, government agencies and other public institutions don’t have pages on social networks. The reason is that the data of the visitors is not sufficiently protected. If you have a page on Facebook or LinkedIn, you must also be able to determine how your visitors’ data is processed. For example, it may not simply be stored that you visited the Facebook page of an unpopular party. You would first have to agree to let Facebook and the party know.

However, Facebook does not allow page operators to choose which data to store. Other major social networks do not have such a setting option either. On the contrary, Facebook stores all the data about your visit: the exact time of the visit, which page you were on before, your location and much more. Legally, that’s a problem. Therefore, public institutions are not allowed to operate sites themselves. And we don’t want that either!

So Facebook and other social networks process lots of data and do not cooperate (sufficiently) with page operators. But we see other problems.

Are you on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter?

Why are you on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter? You’ll find exciting content there, that’s right! Just recently, I had a big scare moment. While I was working in the home office, there was a very loud banging outside. So really loud – it sounded like an explosion or a gunshot. Accordingly, I was tense at first. But a quick look at Twitter quickly put my mind at ease. It was merely a test of a supersonic aircraft…. Phew. That’s one of the strengths of social networks. There is information about events in a short time.

At the same time, you can find serious news sites, news from your circle of friends or former colleagues, and so much more. Everyone contributes to the attractiveness of the platform with articles. It is tempting as a club to show up there as well and benefit from the crowd of people.

But we would also enrich the offer with our content. The social network learns that you are interested in our topics. Each of your interactions sharpens knowledge about your interests. In this way, advertising can be played out specifically for you. But also parties and associations can accurately display articles for you and try to influence you.

It has been shown that this mechanism can be exploited. Negative examples include the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA, targeted misinformation during the UK’s exit from the EU, and manipulative advertising (dark ads) during the German election campaign. The list of such examples is long.

The manipulative advertisements are not controllable for outsiders. Only the networks know who served paid ads to whom. We learn about it only through good research by journalists. At the same time, of course, the networks can ban certain parties from advertising. All control lies with Facebook, LinkedIn and so on. That means power. This power can be dangerous in the wrong hands. We don’t want to support that.

Despite these problems we want to inform about news from the association, about exciting dates, events and about our topics.

What is the alternative?

We do not want to operate in a legal gray area. It is also important to us that your data is protected – companies should not get rich from it.

Surprise! An alternative is right under your nose. We use a blog on our own website. The advantage: We decide which information about you is stored. And so we can decide not to store anything personal. Of course, this limits the range quite a bit. You could save our blog and be informed about news via RSS feed, for example.

And how do we attract new people, like maybe you (?), to our blog. We use two ways: on the one hand, our members create posts in their networks with links to the blog, and on the other hand, we use social networks that have good intentions.

Maybe you landed here via a post by Nadine, Peter or Roland? That’s our compromise between standing up for our values and our interest in reaching more people. Even if we are not directly present in the (problematic) social networks, we increase the attractiveness with our content. Everyone must weigh up the issues for themselves. At least the legal problem mentioned at the beginning no longer applies. After all, we do not operate our own site on questionable platforms.

Besides that we can be found in the Fediverse of Mastodon. Mastodon is currently the talk of the town because of the problems on Twitter. Comparable to e-mail, you simply choose your own Fediverse provider. We have decided in favor of Digitalcourage e.V.. Digitalcourage is a non-profit association and has no interest in the data of the users. We can exchange information with people from other providers throughout Fediverse. Mastodon behaves very similarly to Twitter. We can publish our own posts, draw attention to events and topics, and people can follow us. There should be more networks like this!

Take care of your data!

We had to go our own way because of the legal gray area with social networks and their problematic handling of data. The protection of your data is important to us. That’s why we run a blog ourselves, use the reach of our members, and rely on social networks that have no interest in users’ data.

If you’re facing the same decisions as an organization, consider:

  • Do you want to take the legal risk of having your own page on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.?
  • How important is the protection of your prospects’ data to you?
  • Do you want to make social networks more attractive with your content?
  • Do you want to run your own blog?

Feel free to ask us for support or tell us your journey or thoughts and help others!