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Ethical Digital Wants To Save The Internet

We need to talk about the Internet. It's become essential in our lives, especially during the pandemic, but it's not without its issues. We all know the good — connection, education, information, innovation, creation — and we know some of the bad — misinformation, privacy breaches, cyberbullying, addiction — but do we really know how it’s affecting us and how we can affect it? (Hint: it’s not just by opting out!)

How to build a better future for the Internet is exactly what Ethical Digital, the newly launched company from Katrina German, is looking to answer and influence. “We want to change the trajectory of the Internet,” says German. Ethical Digital is dedicated to leading constructive discourse around ethics in the digital realm. “The Internet is created by people and systems. If we study those systems and work with research partners, we can create policies and actions to actually make some changes.”

Ethical Digital was born out of an accumulation of experiences for German over the years and one big recent moment: The Social Dilemma documentary forced people to start talking about problems with the Internet. “I knew that was when the public was ready to have this conversation and understand how these platforms are impacting our lives,” says German.

Ethical Digital is approaching its mission from two sides: data-driven research to identify and analyze problems and consulting services to create and provide answers.

On the research side, Ethical Digital has already partnered with organizations ranging from academic institutions, like the University of Saskatchewan, venture capitalists and accelerator programs to tackle three research projects on social media & wellbeing, women in venture capital and women founders and accelerators.

What’s striking about the initial projects is that they go well beyond the parameters of digital activity, like social media and marketing, and into areas like programming, diversity and access as well. “I'm a strong believer that if technology is the future, then everybody should be involved in creating that future,” says German.

For example, the Women in Venture Capital research project in partnership with Neal Dempsey with Bay Partners aims to move the needle of women in venture capital from around 13% to 30%. “If we can influence the type of people who are funding the Internet, perhaps we can see some changes in the types of products and [companies] that are being funded,” says German. Similarly, the Women Founders and Accelerators research project aims to increase accessibility for women in tech, especially as new founders, something German has long been involved with through her own projects and collaborations with organizations like Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan (WESK).

The project she thinks everyone will be interested in (and is close to her heart) is the interaction between social media and wellbeing. German and her team are currently in the process of creating the world’s largest database of academic research on the topic and have been particularly focused on how social media impacts sleep, anxiety, depression and self esteem. “We're looking at how social media impacts different age groups and how different platforms have different impacts on people,” says German. “It’s definitely something people should know about and be aware of and we’re really excited to be able to tell them.”

The potential positive impacts of this research are innumerable and Ethical Digital wants to help researchers share their knowledge with the wider public. That’s where Ethical Digital’s consulting side comes in. “That’s our superpower is being that bridge,” says German.

The consulting side will be able to translate the research — quite literally through their blog — and use it to inform purpose-driven organizations and individuals on their brand and communication strategies. They are also continuing to offer full-service digital marketing services such as help with social media, websites and email strategies. Ethical Digital’s unique combination of in-depth analytics and focus on celebratory and educational content is what sets them apart from other digital marketing companies and ensures the content put out is ethical.

Even though the company is just starting out, German already has big plans for the future for both streams of Ethical Digital and its potential to impact the Internet. “We would like to be a worldwide force and want to help others move the needle in terms of how these issues are dealt with,” says German. “We have to chip away at these problems and we can’t assume there’s nothing we can do about them. I fully believe we can do something about it.”

Contact Ethical Digital to learn more about its services and how your company can help build a better future for the Internet.
- June 7, 2021