legal risks for organisation’s implementing social media

20 08 2010

So far we have looked at a few web2.0 tools and also some of the good and bad things about adopting them into organisations. Now, lets take a look at what legal risks are there for organisation’s implementing social media.

One of the legal risks mentioned in my lecture by our guest lecturer, Malcolm Burrows had caught my attention, “Discrimination by employees – Managers be warned about who you befriend online“.

“Employers need to think carefully before they allow employees to become ‘friends’ on Social Networking Sites as it may be argued that managers are being discriminatory if they accept some friend requests and not others.” (Elicia Lin, 2009)

Does that mean employers shouldn’t reveal any social networking sites account to their employees? or they just shouldn’t have any social networking site account set up?

It seems to me that if their organisation has somehow implemented web2.0, they should all have had at least one social networking account set up to communicate with others. Therefore, my answer to the very first question, you should never tell your employees your Facebook or any other social sites account. However, it seems that most users on Facebook uses their real names so that they can maybe reconnect with some old friends, so it appeal to me that you can very easily be found if people know your name. Now, if your employees somehow have found you and sent you friends requests, best way to do is either except, or ignore them ALL.

As i was a bit confuse about choosing an organisation for this week’s activity, therefore, i  haven’t specifically chosen an organisation to talk about but i have two scenarios that are related to legal risks for organisation’s implementing social media. Here is the first one:

Brisbane School of Hairdressing, if you click into their website, you can see at the bottom of the page there is an image saying “Add us on Facebook, click here”. Clearly, the school is suggesting their staff and/or students to like their facebook page.

I know someone who attended that school and have told me that most of the staff at that school have their own salons. Now here comes the problem, If student X wanted a job after graduated and have decided to search on the facebook page set up by their school for a specific teacher (as mentioned before, its very easy if an account is exist) and meanwhile, student Y is doing the same thing. However, the teacher only accepted student Y friends request and at the end student Y is who the teacher hired for their salon, then student X might take this as being discriminated by the employer of the salon (the teacher). *The solution to this kind of problems has been discuss earlier.

Another scenario, Student B has joined the facebook page, who recently taken some photos in their classroom, without noticing Student A’s design for the school for an up-coming design competition was captured. She then went on the facebook page to share the photos with other people who joined the page, which happened to let their opponent sees their design before the competition. This could be considered as confidential information loss for the school due to student B inappropriately using social media tools, online photos sharing/Facebooking. I think the solution to this could be having the school to change their Facebook Page to “not everyone allow to post photos/comments without permission from higher level of staff within the school.” Because if a higher level staff of the school has seen the picture and knowing that it will reveal confidential information, they can always stop it before it goes out to the public.

There is actually a lot more other legal risks associating with implementing social media into organisations but these are the ones i was more interested in talking about, therefore i might just end here and hopefully i didn’t misinterpreted this week’s task. If i did, please drop a line for me to direct me to the right direction. Otherwise, leave me any comments you like 🙂 Thanks. s2

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8 responses

23 08 2010
Ryan Cornett

It seems to me that if their organisation has somehow implemented web2.0, they should all have had at least one social networking account set up to communicate with others. Therefore, my answer to the very first question, you should never tell your employees your Facebook or any other social sites account. However, it seems that most users on Facebook uses their real names so that they can maybe reconnect with some old friends, so it appeal to me that you can very easily be found if people know your name. Now, if your employees somehow have found you and sent you friends requests, best way to do is either except, or ignore them ALL.

This is a topic that I ponder all the time. I really would like to just be myself and have fun with my friends on facebook and what not, however I don’t want to risk employment opportunities because of my actions. In saying that, I don’t do outrageous things, or go to crazy parties and post pictures. However I feel that facebook is place to catch up with your family and friends. So, because of this I have totally locked my facebook page down. To counter this action, I have setup a linkedin account for my professional contacts.

So with this in mind, I look back at the situation you have outlined. In the event of my boss adding me I would ask myself “is this a person I consider a friend? do we hang out?” If the answer is no, then I will not add them.

Another way around this, which I have done. Is if there is someone that I want to add to be friendly, but don’t want them to see certain things (parents for example :P), I have a “low detail” group. In my privacy settings I have them locked down so they see everything, however I can still make them feel at easy knowing that I am their friend 🙂

Just some food for thought 🙂

23 08 2010
ctkcrystal

Hey Ryan, thanks for pointing that out, i did actually look into that about putting different people in different groups and then change the settings (eg. facebook) so that some particular groups are not allow to see certain things i post.

You mentioned that you setup a linkedin account for your professional contacts (only) *i assumed. So here comes a question, wouldn’t you just want to have one account to manage instead of a few of different ones on different platforms? Just wanted to ask you that because for me, being as a student, i wouldn’t mind spending time on trying out different platforms and play around with them. 😛

Thank you for your comment tho. 🙂

Crystal

23 08 2010
Ryan Cornett

Sorry, thank you for correcting me. Linkedin is only for my professional networking. As Matt has said below, it is not a perfect solution. However I find it fairly easy to manage as you have a platform for your friends and family, where you can be fairly relaxed and a professional platform where you ensure everything is spic and span. They are totally different entities.

Professional networking is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to career development. As you may know, or will soon find out, in many cases the difference between getting many jobs isn’t want you know, but its who you know. So this really isn’t something you want to screw up, hence why I keep it away from my personal life.

I do have friends from work and even my past boss on facebook, however that is because I am actually friends with them and they know me for who I am. It is hard to balance, you could almost consider it an art. People have different ways in doing it, as I have shared above I have two ways which seem to work for me.

23 08 2010
ctkcrystal

The most important thing we should all keep in mind is like what matt said below, “….is to be very careful what I say or post.”

Take it this way, imagine you were on stage where you have everyone you know sitting right in front of you, what would you say? and what wouldnt you say?

I do agree that professional networking is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to career development. I mean, like you said, it is hard to balance, but if this is the only solution, we will just have to try our best to keep them separate.

23 08 2010
mattjohnstone

I think it’s important to also remember that it’s a small world, and in a small city (like Brisbane) it’s feasible that someone you know might be affiliated with your employer or potential employer.

Like Ryan, I have a LinkedIn account for professional networking as well. It is definitely not perfect using both, but it’s very much worth the fact that you can attempt to separate your work and personal lives. I say attempt to because if you make friends at work and add them on Facebook, then those lines are still blurred. The only answer I have found is to be very careful what I say or post. At the same time, it doesn’t stop anyone else from tagging you in photos or anything. As Facebook gets bigger, I think consumers will be demanding a more permanent solution to this type of problem.

23 08 2010
ctkcrystal

hey Matt, thanks for your comment. You have also just reminded me of something, since you mentioned that “someone you know might be affiliated with your employer or potential employer.”. What if let say you are very careful and set your information sharing status on facebook to “Friends Only”. But you have a friend who has nothing to do with your job, but who also happened to be living with someone who happened to be your employer. What would you do if you were in this situation? would you block that friend on facebook? or? what i really wanted to say is, we have the virtual world, but we cant forget that we are living in the real world as well. (If you get what i am trying to ask/say) 🙂

Crystal

29 09 2010
mattjohnstone

That’s an excellent point, people are quick to point the finger at social networking for oversharing personal information, but in reality there is already some risk there and it is extremely difficult to tell which channel that information has traveled across once it has reached its destination.

27 09 2010
Enterprise 2.0 « Cheng's Blog

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