17. September 2011, 16:28 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Social media tools and sites have expanded the collaborative landscape and the ease with which information can be shared with large numbers of other people. Organizations, whether they use these tools or not, need to spend serious effort communicating with their employees regarding their use, and keeping confidential information private.

Numerous surveys have shown that employees frequently e-mail confidential information, permitted non-cleared people to see such information or have otherwise transmitted customer data by unencrypted e-mail. Company data has been transmitted on Twitter, posted on Facebook and even been included in videos posted on YouTube.

Many times the problem is a lack of awareness by the employee of the company policy, or that there even is one, on such uses. Additionally, many companies don't even have such policies in place. Intentional or accidental, such policy violations can lead to legal and reputation problems for both the organizations, and the individuals, involved. The best solution is a clearly written policy, fully communicated to employees, and with a signed acknowledgment that they have read and agree to be bound by same. Such policy statements are best done as a collaborative effort between the legal and IT and human resources staff. Use of monitoring tools, content filtering and periodic reviews can be used to enforce compliance.

Setting out such policies and their enforcement needs to be tailored to suit the organization and its workforce. It can range from a very strict, locked down approach that may be appropriate for a defense contractor or a free-wheeling wide participation in a community volunteer group. Most organizations are likely to fall somewhere in between. This is definitely once case where one size does not fit all. Though the underlying message is clear - some form of policy is needed given the developing landscape of social media. Those organizations that neglect to develop one may soon regret it.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: social media,policy,information



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