Oh oh – here we go again. A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that the social networking site MySpace, in conjunction with popular applications on the site, has been sending crucial data to advertising companies. This data can be used to identify users – and I’d call this a breach of identity.
This report comes amid news that many employers are blocking access to sites such as MySpace, facebook, and even AOL. This comes at a time when social networking is becoming, or has already become, as ubiquitous as e-mail. Many work folks stay abreast of family and friend occurrences and commitments through these means, just as they do through e-mail.
Companies need to revisit Acceptable Use and Security Policies again. If you’re not covering and directing what people can do with organizational resources, to include social networking, you need to address that at once.
For some companies, facebook and MySpace, et al, represent opportunity for marketing and expansion of client bases, exposition of products, and sales. The authorized uses of social networking are obvious and can be easily documented in an Acceptable Use Policy. If your company is utilizing social networking in expanding business, you merely follow many of the same dictates for appropriate use of e-mail, for appropriate communications, etc.
However, in any Acceptable Use Policy’s three main sections (Required Activities; Forbidden Activities; and Limited Personal Use Activities), it is the “Limited Personal Use…” section that is trickiest. Here is where the organization attempts to be a “decent chap,” in making allowance for some of the mental snack time we all need; some idle web surfing, personal e-mailing, social networking perusal and update…
In other words, it’s tolerated, so long as
1) You don’t publish proprietary information
2) Shared resources aren’t tied up,
3) Inflammatory or illegal material isn’t published
4) Personal activity isn’t conducted under the impression that you’re operating in your official capacity
5) You don’t open security holes for breach
And so on and so forth.
MySpace is still around?? Be careful out there. :^ ) Also, you may wish to visit Social Networking and the Blended Environment.
NP: Band of Gypsys (Hendrix, Cox, Miles) on original vinyl. Naturally. (And yeah, it is “Gypsys” – but you knew that).