There’s a regulation battle brewing in Washington, D.C. this week that’s unlike most any in history. In one of the most viewed hearings of all time, our nation’s lawmakers are facing off with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

The focus of the hearings revolves largely around Zuckerberg’s testimony about the extent Facebook had knowledge of their users’ information being sold.

Few expect a clear road map for next steps to emerge from this week’s hearings, but there have already been some deeply concerning revelations. Zuckerberg’s admission that his data was also sold “to a malicious third party,” makes it harder than ever for Facebook to claim that its platform circa 2013 was sound.

The reasonable and alarming reality is that if the CEO of Facebook cannot lock down his privacy settings, who can?

What programming changes take place and what regulations are required moving forward will undoubtedly be an ongoing point of discussion, but there are some key issues that business owners can be learning through this process.

Social media is populating data’s streams in exponential numbers. And much of that data is driving marketing. There is a unique opportunity for business leaders to learn the landscape of social media platforms and how to ethically wade through all forms of data collection.

Some larger conglomerates are already headed that direction by offering all kinds of incentives to their loyal customers in exchange for accessing their data. Companies don’t argue the necessity for relevant data, just how to responsibly pull it and what, if any, incentive is there from those whose information is being collected.

Some experts believe that for the first time since social media streams began dominating the marketing world, the right questions are being asked about how data is collected and where it’s going.

But regulation and privacy will not be where that dialogue stops if one of the leading data companies has its way. The company is working closely with The Roush Foundation to show how responsibly data can be collected and how it can then be used to help companies as well as the individual from who the information was collected.

The Zuckerberg hearing isn’t the time to lose interest in what’s happening in social media trends or data collection. It’s proof positive that it’s never been more relevant to our industry.

This is why UNITE 2018 is bringing in the experts in both data and social media — to help us all understand how our industry can benefit while becoming the standard-bearer of ethical marketing practices and data collection. At UNITE 2018, we’ll learn from the experts ways to responsibly utilize social media platforms driven by ethical data collection; steps that can empower our industry to leverage some of the greatest marketing tools available while providing value to the customer — value most never knew was possible.