U.S. Rep. Weiner's Twitter Exposure Shows Risk of Risqu??« Social Networking

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-06-07 Print this article Print

title=Set Clear Policies on Corporate Network Use} 

Looking at the most serious problem first: What about Joe and his illegal photo collecting? This is more than just a social networking problem. If Joe is using his email account, then it becomes the company's problem. The police can seize the servers and any computers that they think might contain illegal images.

Your best bet is to make a policy that states that if illegal material is found on the company email system that you and the HR department will lock Joe out of the email system (regardless of his position in the company) and will immediately call the FBI. Volunteer your services in helping the cops find Joe and in getting the incriminating data. If you're lucky, you might be given time to back up the non-illegal data so that you won't go out of business.

But what about those Twitter and Facebook entries that are embarrassing even if they don't include skinny men showing their naked torsos? After all, it's entirely possible for your employees to do some seriously stupid things on social networking while remaining fully clothed. The answer? You have to create a social networking policy for employees that holds them accountable for what they do while in their persona as a company employee.

For example, Sam, an employee in the marketing department, may have a public persona on Twitter that identifies him as a company employee. If he does something there that is bad for the company, then he's going to be held responsible. But Sam might also have a personal Twitter account, say as @beerdrinkinsam, in which he writes about his adventures with brewed beverages. Those are his business, although you might want to keep track of his exploits, if only as a way to score some free beer from time to time.

The bottom line is that as long as your employees can be tied to your company, then your company has an interest in what they say on social networking, and they should be held accountable. To do this, there needs to be a written policy and your employees need to agree to it.

Sadly, if you're a congressman from New York, it's pretty hard to stay anonymous on the Internet. But maybe the state legislature can find a way to require its representatives to keep clothed on the public Internet

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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