In the future, organizations will encounter many challenges in regard to social media. A few challenges include social media policy, online reputation management, privacy issues, and ethical dilemmas. I believe privacy and ethics are very intertwined. As social media continues to evolve, companies will inevitably utilize social media even more. Poor ethical behavior could be problematic and even damaging to a company’s reputation.
(Image by Mizusumashi [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Privacy and Ethics are Very Intertwined
In the past, the public knew companies by their reputation. In the present, we are able to Google just about every detail of a company, from the name of their CEO to their financials, and find it in less than 5 seconds. This is both good and bad. In essence, we are living in a very transparent era. It is easy for the public as well as other companies to see what competitors are doing. I’m not certain that this is a good thing. I worry that in the future companies will all just start copying leading companies and they will all start to act and look the same on the web.
We are living in an age where telling the world what you are doing as well as where you are going is commonplace. If you are going out of town, you wouldn’t put a sign on your front door telling strangers, however, our generation doesn’t think twice about posting this information out on the Internet for anyone to see. Companies are always tweeting to their followers and once something is on the Internet, it’s never forgotten. I think this will inherently become a problem for many companies in the future. One unethical person saying the wrong thing on social media could ruin a brand.
Social media has already caused many employees problems and even cost some of them their jobs. One example is Nicole Crowther, who was an extra on Glee. She tweeted some plot spoilers from her time on set to the world. The show’s producer found the tweets and fired her. Though the culprit was caught and reprimanded, the show’s plot was still leaked to the public and essentially damaged. Why watch a show when you already know what is going to happen? This is just one instance where social media caused a problem. Crowther did not act ethically when she tweeted these details to the public and the show’s privacy was compromised.
Furthermore, there have been many other blunders involving social media. Scott Bartosiewicz lost his job at Chrysler as a New Media Strategist after he accidentally tweeted something onto Chrysler’s Twitter account instead of onto his own. His tweet said “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*cking drive." What is really ironic is that his tweet happened to be about cars and could be extremely damaging to the company. Bartosiewicz’s lack of ethical behavior ultimately lost him his job. Does a mistake like this merit loss of a job? Possibly, in this era, you need to think twice before you tweet.
In the future, privacy will definitely be forfeited as we share more and more personal information via social media. I imagine that new technology will come out to better protect our personal information from the public and essentially our employers. I don’t foresee that people will just stop sharing their opinions and personal insights via social networks any time soon. I do think that employers may start testing the ethics of potential employees before hiring them in the future especially if they will be representing the company via social media. We can’t predict the future, but what we can predict is that technology is not slowing down. Ethics and privacy will continue to play an important role in the workplace. Companies will need to evolve along side technology if they want to effectively manage their reputations through social media.
- Examples came from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/twitter-fired-2011-5?op=1#ixzz2lSG48N5a
(All accolades and credit for this tremendous blog post belong to Sari Gordon who is the sole author and creator of this content.)