Don't Make Your Social Network A Public Practice
Thu 23rd September 2010
This recent survey suggests that ignorance surrounds the issue of how we use these sites and that most workers are unaware of the legal consequences that their online antics could bring. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that 70% of those surveyed didn't know if their employer had a policy in place to deal with the situation formally.
Any comment posted or blogged on a social networking site is effectively published for anyone to see and could severely damage the reputation of any business or the individuals named.
But you can now expand your social network circle safely and without leaving Outlook with the new Social Connector. While you are logged into a social network, the Outlook Social Connector can ask the network for information on your contacts including pictures status updates, activity feeds, and information in connection with name, title, e-mail address, etc. Obviously the information available to you in Outlook is based on the person's privacy settings.
To view email and attachments, click on a contact's name. This also enables you to see meetings you have attended together, and even your contact's activities in social networks. From here, you can also send your contact a request to become your connection in popular social networks.
The Outlook Social Connector requests information on your behalf from each configured social network. The information is then available within Outlook. When communicating with these social networks, the Connector does take precautions to help protect your privacy and the privacy of the friends and colleagues.
When requesting information about a person on a social network, e-mail addresses are hashed before they are sent from Outlook to the social network. The social networks can only match the e-mail addresses if they are already known to that network. For example, Facebook won't know a person's e-mail address if it is not already associated with an account on Facebook. A non-hashed e-mail address is only sent to a social network when you intentionally add a person to the social network using the Add button.
Spare a thought for the poor teenager who was reported in the press when she mistakenly posted her address and phone number on Facebook to publicise a birthday party and ended up with 21,000 potential guests. The internet sensation led to thousands of RSVPs from strangers. Although the girl's mother cancelled the event, police were still forced to step up patrols in the girl's street amid fears some Facebook users would turn up, causing chaos. The girl had only intended to invite 15 friends to her 15th birthday party, but within hours of appearing online the event escalated out of control and her mistake was subjected to online ridicule.
In order to protect everyone who has access to the internet, most businesses will have a clear policy on how they will deal with the issue of negative online remarks. A clear policy should be issued to every employee; with an explanation about what is and isn't permissible; any abuse on a social media site is usually a disciplinary matter, and could mean dismissal.
Policies usually detail that personal opinions of company employees, regardless of whether they are intended to be humorous or malicious, can't be posted either inside or outside of work. With this in mind, your employer will probably have a policy in place even if they have blocked access to social networking sites completely from within your work environment.
Even if you are aware of an existing software or internet policy, it is most likely to be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is up to date with current technology; especially regarding disclosing company information or opinions about colleagues on social networking sites. To protect yourself, make sure you read and understand these policies regularly.
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