The Business-Technology Weave

Jul 26 2011   10:09AM GMT

Social Networking: Sense and Sobriety

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


Today’s social networking environment is interesting from a variety of perspectives.

There’s the security aspect, of course.  Folks have to be careful not to divulge too much information, such as: 

“Hey!  We’re on vacation in beautiful [insert location here]!” 

This is the equivalent of a news bulletin to every nearby thief: 

“Hi.  We’re not in our home at the moment, and won’t be for the next couple weeks.  Come on by, break in, and peruse our stuff – take what you like…”

In fact, it is often auto-responders that let criminals know that people are on vacation – and these can be very dangerous.  Criminals survey the ‘net to find out which houses are empty, and auto-responders make for very efficient pairing of house-to-criminal.  Think.

I remember the good old days when, as IT Director and later CIO, I’d walk out the door one afternoon and not touch a computer or send a message for two whole weeks.  I might write a regular paper letter or two and post it while on vacation, but that was it.  Today’s eCulture really has people tethered to their accounts and devices: 

According to TechCrunch:

          50% of all Americans are on Facebook – but only 37% have a passport.

          There are 750 million active users worldwide.

          There are 700 billion minutes per month spent.

          58% of people are online while on vacation. 


People feel pressure to stay “plugged in.”  There’s pressure to e-mail, tweet, IM, update websites with vacation photos and blurbs… 

This is a lot of people, and a lot of time spent.  I would urge all users, family members, children, professional associates – all interconnected and linked people – to be very circumspect about what information you make public. 

Also:  Be very wary of what kinds of information new “friends” solicit.  If you know someone exclusively through the domain of online social networking, e-mail, etc., be quite careful.  Not to encourage spying, but take note of what children are doing too.

Also, consider private moments “breachable” – anything can happen, and it’s important to view every activity through a security prism.  I counsel everyone with whom I work and deal:  View all activity through security’s prism.  Yes, that bears repeating – and often.

Rather than a burden, it becomes second nature – like fastening a seat belt or locking your door when exiting the house.

To “business” I say:  Take stock of what you’re doing, saying, and exposing on social networking sites.  Many businesses have official social networking sites and more are jumping in all the time.  Employees often exit the “party” of their personal account, and bring the wrong voice to the work account.  Know what employees are saying there; how they’re interacting with customers/clients and potential ones.  Guard against mixing “friending” with “businessing” – have a social networking policy that comports with, and augments, the organization’s Communications Policy, Acceptable Use Policy, Security Policy, Content Management Policy, and any others.

If don’t have each of those, or if you’re a small org, that’s ok – just be certain to cover the bases in whatever general policies you have concerning employee activity and behavior.  If you’re not sure what you have or need, find someone to help you and get liabilities and protections documented and dispersed throughout staff – via communication, training, and hopefully both.

For private individuals, for organizations, now is the time for these reviews, actions, and behaviors.


NP:  John Coltrane, Live at the Village Vanguard, original Impulse! 33rpm LP.


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