To Tweet or Not to Tweet?
Source: webdesignerdepot.com Facebook has become a popular entertainment medium for people and an effective tool for companies. But at the point where personal and corporate interests overlap, some misunderstandings can occur. The much talked about recent instance in Britain with John Sawers’ wife facebook page proved that a dangerous crash can occur at such cross points. The story started when the wife of John Sawers, the next head of MI6, published his private information on her Facebook page. In particular, there were details about their children and the location of their flat mentioned. Patrick Mercer, chairman of the counter-terrorism sub-committee admitted, “A great deal of taxpayers’ money has been spent over the past several decades making sure he and his family are protected from security compromises. Well, it doesn’t seem to be very relevant any more, does it?” The situation raises a burning question – how do your ‘private territory’ and responsibility to your employer merge within your social networks content? Social networks are a good opportunity for companies and politicians to come closer to the wider audience, and to show their “human” side. And one of the advantages of staff members sharing more personal information is that they can help their company look friendlier and more open to people. At the same time, a latest tendency of adding personal Twitter and Facebook profiles to corporate contact information (such as in an email signature), creates a big blur on which part of one’s social media interaction is strictly personal and which is corporate. From this viewpoint, one should realize that when expressing their opinion online, they must make sure that it is in line with their company’s corporate philosophy and image or at least not going against it, as various examples online show people expressing something perceived as negative by their employers or clients, coming from a personal social media profile, resulting in their firing or getting into trouble at least. One such example that most of the online community has probable read a blog post or two on, is the case of James Andrews on his way to a business meeting with FedEx, tweeting about Memphis in a negative light, a hometown which FedEx takes great pride in. The new emerging Internet ethics show a need for a more careful review of the content one provides online before hitting ‘send’. Most companies have still to create a guide on online content for their employees to read before they start representing their company online (which they automatically do once they work for a specific company), leaving the offline company policy open to interpretation when it comes to applying it to online interaction and self expression of the company’s embassadors (i.e. staff members), based on their understanding of what might be perceived as directly offensive and what not. An example of confidential information being shared online just minutes before they could be officially released, due to a lack of online guidelines, was the case of the Twitter scandal on the Germany presidential elections results being tweeted a bit prematurely. Source: webdesignerdepot.com One of the potential solutions people tend to resort to is creating two accounts – a “personal” and a “professional” one and then limit the access on their personal account. That way, they do not feel pressured to post personal information for the benefit of their company’s online image from their personal account if they don’t feel comfortable doing so, while they can still post photos of themselves in a swimsuit from their latest vacation. It is you who decides where the line is drawn between building a personal online reputation and your company’s image. However, that being said, online content should always be revised very carefully before it is set free to the cyberspace. Dutch insurance company FBTO warns users not to post information about their vacation as burglars are now going online to trace possible victims. An FBTO spokeswoman says, “Burglars used to check the mailbox to find out whether or not someone was on holiday; now they look at the digital mailbox”. A very fair warning as shown by the recently released “The Digital Criminal” survey results. A good Ukrainian proverb says that words are like sparrows – you can’t catch them once you have already released them. Online, these “sparrows” will be flying around for a long time and will be available to a wider audience than in the older days, so it is highly advisable to check them carefully before letting them go.