Social Media Privacy

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Feb 10

Social Media Privacy

Social media Social_Networkhas the potential be very beneficial, but can surely take a turn for the worst and became harmful.  Social media can not only affect a business/brand but also its employees.  We live in a technology-driven society in which even children as young as 6 yrs. old have access to social media forums.  There are even sites such as LinkedIn that are specifically geared toward networking in the business world.  So it is so important to stress that a business has to have privacy policy that includes social media in an effort to protect itself as well as keep their employees informed of potential post on these sites that could lead to their termination.

(Image by Zigomitros Athanasios - Thor4bp (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

“With appropriate care, this new voice can be used as an extraordinary marketing, fundraising, customer service and relationship building tool for non-profit, youth focused, and community based organizations” (Oliver) are some of the positives on social media and technology as a whole.  However, the same article points out that, “Unfortunately, the same features that make this technology useful, also make it potentially harmful” (Oliver).

Some measures that can be taken to prevent any issues before they happen are:

  • create a clear privacy policy stressing what is/not acceptable for sharing on social media,
  • having all employees/stakeholders sign confidentiality agreements, and
  • providing all involved parties with training as necessary on social media privacy issues.

A business sometimes can shoot itself in the foot so to speak, this is why it is so important to have the right people in charge of social media communications.  In 2012 this disaster occurred - “After President Obama mentioned his grandmother during the first presidential debate in October, the kitchen appliance manufacturer responded by posting the following tweet to its 24,000 followers: "Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! She died 3 days b4 he became president. #nbcpolitics" (Fiegerman). There was definitely damage control that had to be done in an effort to try and smooth over this ill thought out tweet.  However, sometimes it is just simply a matter of a security breach in which social media aids in the fast spread of leaked information.  In a blog post on how social media can go extremely wrong it was stated that “Sony experienced serious security issues when it got hacked by external hackers on several occasions over the last few years” (Farrah) this situation was not necessarily the fault of Sony’s but it Is another of example why security needs to be a priority.

There have also been situations in which employees of a business may have lived to regret what they thought were simply post on their personal pages.  “A Michigan woman, Alicia Ann Lynch, came under fire after posting a photo of her tasteless costume on Twitter–she went as a Boston Marathon bombing victim” (Watts).  Lynch, soon found out the power of social media as well as how offensive her costume actually was when her employers got wind of her trending post on twitter and terminated her from employment.  The same sort of thing occurred in the case of DTE worker Rachel Burnett after she posted an offensive comment to her Facebook wall (Oakland Press News), this also resulted in a termination of employment.

Granted both of these cases are different but the end result was the same and that is a personal post by an employee of a business was seen and the business decided to fire the employee.

The bottom line is all businesses should have a policy that an article in Bloomberg law says should “Make Clear Who Owns Certain Material, Protect Confidential Trade Secrets, Educate and Enforce, Requiring Disclaimers on Certain Posts Is Acceptable and be Specific” (Hamer).

Everyone involved in any matter of the business should be knowledgeable of this policy, and the terms for a violator of the policy should be clear.  This is for both the protection of the business and all employees associated with it as well.

Works Cited:

(All credit and accolades for this tremendous blog post are for Rosalynn Pardlowe who is the author and content creator.)

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