You’re fired! The risk of social media.

In Enterprise2.0, Social Media on August 19, 2010 by nickejones Tagged: , ,

What are the legal risk for organisational stakeholders? There are all sorts of risk to organisations and it’s employees. Many traditional organisation would rather ignore social media then embrace it due to these associated risks. But does ignoring social media reduce all risks? 

Firstly, lets look at a few risk involved, then look at who’s at risk and some ways to manage risk.

— Confidential information (accounts manager contacts)
— Disclosure by employees (recommended a person via social media and gave key organisational business relationships by publicly letting people know about the two companies working together).
— Copyright infringement (don’t own the copyright material but post it on the Internet).
— Privacy Act (disclosure of improperly sanitised “sensitive information”.
— Discrimination  (acceptance of friend requests of some employee’s but not others)
— Misleading and deceptive conduct – the website is wrong or misleading to the public or business.
— Employers vicariously liable for authorised conduct.

(It is important to note that risk significance will depend on the context)

If you’re an individual reading this for personal reference, the best advice is to use common sense. Acknowledge that there is a risk in posting information, and use personal judgement to whether or not this could have legal implications. Yes, this is not the most helpful advice but the reality is that there are few standards or common law for social media. Therefore, the best precaution an individual can make is being knowledgeable of the risks in order to manage your participation and content you might post online.

From a organisational point-of-view, the best ways to manage risks related to social media is policy. Social media policy is fundamental to successfully manage the risk associated with social media.

So if there are risk involved why use it? Consider what is at risk vs what can be gained. Depending on the context, risk will vary. Organisational structures, culture, regulations,  and information sensitivity will be different depending on the organisation. The methods of reducing risk is policies and providing education to staff. These exercisers are not only necessary for the organisation but also necessary for the employees to be save and confident in the internal and external use of social media. An organisation refusing to adopt Enterprise 2.0 tools still puts there employees at risk and liable while externally (outside of work) conducting social media activities. Therefore, it is the organisations obligation to ensure their employees and their organisation are protected through education seminars and updated policies.

The blur between work and play is evident and social media is now a part of everyday society.  These tools can be used for great benefit to networking, marketing, and PR activities. But the implications of this are that organisation and their employees need to be aware of the risks involved. Risk are present when an organisations ignores social media just as much as when an organisation implements them. Take precautions for the employee and organisation so that all parties can have confidence when conducting activities online.


2 Responses to “You’re fired! The risk of social media.”

  1. Great overview. I think that a lot of the organisational risks that managers are worried about are not necessarily only related to Enterprise 2.0 tools. For example productivity: it’s not as if employees weren’t always sending personal e-mails to each other and externally on the clock.

    • I agree Matt. Productivity is one of those elements of Enterprise 2.0 tools that could have both positive and negative risks associated to it. Although there is huge potential for tools such as blogs to improve the knowledge sharing among employees, the fact that they are already using email’s and now there is something new, possibly more effective doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be better. What makes these tool useful is when they are implemented throughout the organisation. This will create higher value proposition and prove useful within the organisations communication structure.
      Thanks for the comment.

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