Enhancing digital privacy: Our approach to social media pixels

In a constantly evolving digital landscape, the privacy of our community always remains top of mind. Recent conversations with OGC, alongside recent investigative reports—including this article from The LawSci Forum—have brought to light the complexities and potential privacy implications associated with social media pixels. After many conversations and reviewing how social media companies, specifically Meta, gather data, we’ve decided to pause social pixels for all websites currently housed under University Relations.

The Issue at Hand

Social media pixels, small pieces of code embedded on websites, collect data on user interactions to enhance marketing efforts specifically for retargeting or conversion tracking. While they can sometimes be beneficial, investigations have revealed instances where sensitive information was collected and transmitted without clear user consent. This has specifically been shown on pages with forms or a login page.

Our Response

Concurrently with pausing pixels, we are conducting a comprehensive audit to understand their presence and function. This initiative aims to identify where pixels live, how they are fired, and the firing scope.

Following the audit, we’ll review our findings and take necessary actions. This may involve adjusting settings to limit how it is fired or, if required, removing pixels entirely. Our objective is to eliminate any unintended information sharing while leveraging digital tools responsibly.

To prevent future concerns and enhance our digital governance, we will develop and implement clear guidelines for the use of tracking technologies. This framework will ensure that all digital marketing activities are conducted with regard for user privacy.

A Call for Collaborative Action

Achieving this goal requires the collective effort of our entire marketing community. We encourage all leads involved in managing or overseeing digital content to review if you are currently using social pixels whether they are hardcoded on your website or firing in Google Tag Manager.

Some important questions to ask:

  1. Were they implemented by an agency and currently in use? If so, what is the agency’s intent and can the campaign function with limited use?
  2. Where are your pixels firing? Across the website or just on certain pages?
  3. Finally, what is your unit’s use case with pixels and what other methods can be used for your marketing efforts?

Moving Forward with Transparency

Protecting digital privacy is not a one-time effort, but a continuous commitment. By taking these steps, we aim to foster an environment of trust and transparency in all our digital endeavors. We will keep the community informed of our progress and any changes to our practices.

Support and Resources

We’re here to help. Below are a resources you can leverage for pixel audit:

  • Technical Support: If you need technical support with auditing your sites or assistance in tag removal, reach out to me, Eric Meyer, at meye3817@umn.edu. I’m more than happy to assist you in any way I can.
  • Social Strategy Support: For social media campaign and strategy support, reach out to Susan Hagen, Senior Marketing Strategist, Account Services in University Relations, at susanh@umn.edu.
  • For all general inquiries, you can use the University Relations webhelp form.

In Conclusion

We take the trust placed in us for digital privacy expertise seriously. And while this may be perceived as a “loss” in terms of how we use data, in reality, there are a million ways we can gain insight and bring value to our teams, units, and the U as whole without compromising privacy standards.

Again, we are always here to help and don’t hesitate to use the resources above.

Happy analyzing (with privacy in mind of course).