Navigation the Social Media Legal Minefield – Part 1 – Legal Risks when Implementing Social Media

Posted: August 29, 2012 in Enterprise 2.0
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve decided to take a different approach to blogging today. For those who want to skip the preamble, scroll down past the pretty pictures.
As Catherine Weber points out, It’s no secret why blogs fail. I think this image (taken from linked article) sums it up:

With that said, I am taking an ‘Agile’ approach to blogging instead of the usual (but very well written!) ‘WALL OF TEXT” that seems to adorn every other blog I come across, sadly, including my own.

Some humour to lighten the mood with my new found enlightenment, this seemed very relevant as today we were discussing what media managers actually do all day, this seems to fit the consensus.

Anyhow, this entry is Part 1 of 2 around legal risks and risk mitigation strategies for organisations implementing social media. Rather than focus on a private enterprise, I thought it would be fun to assess a different type of organisation, an entire Government.

So why on earth would the Government care about social media? They operate in the Public sector and have no profit margins to meet or shareholders to appease, that seems fairly straight forward right? I was recently sent this picture at work, and I know many who share this view.

But any Government is more like a business than you would expect, and they aren’t lazy like the picture above would have you believe either! While they do operate in the public sector, they are using tax payers money to fund their operations, thus tax payers operate like shareholders only their votes are the (political) currency. Governments provide a multitude of services across a huge number of departments who all deliver ‘human services’ in one way or another.

Why would the government worry though? What risks could apply to a publicly funded body?

Image for a minute the following:

  • Police Twitter feed tweets about an operation in progress involving highly classified information including names of individuals – This is a clear breach of confidentiality
  • Healthcare Facebook page posts a nation-wide alert about a (fake) deadly virus sweeping the nation – Reputation is damaged and mass panic, wasted resource and Statutory  issues come into play

I leave you with Kabrina Chang: Facebook got me fired – Legal and Management issues for Social Networking

Next post will be discussing where these threats come from, how they are relevant to the organisation and what social media policies should have in place to adequately address them.

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Comments
  1. osarfo says:

    You have done well including pictures and videos to really give that social media tool presence in your post. Very descriptive and I like how you had that “image for the following”. It helped me create the depiction in my mind with regards to the breach of confidentiality. Good work buddy

  2. danielsawyer says:

    Thanks osarfo, I didn’t realise what I was missing out on by not including graphics as they help to get the point across with far greater impact than text alone.

    Very glad you liked my writing style, and appreciate your feedback.

  3. Debra says:

    It’s horrifying to think that there are so many blogs out there and you have to compete between various different unimportant ones just to get your name out!

    I would say that your posts are less “wall of text” than some other ones that I have come across, but I digress! Not everyone enjoys blogging and not everyone understands what makes a popular blog.. popular.

    I think people forget that social media isn’t just about socializing with your friends. All enterprises have a message that they would want to share every now and again and a social media strategy is ideally the best way to get your thoughts and information out there for the people to hear. It’s sort of like a user-generated news broadcast in that regard. Kabrina(?) Chang brings up a really good point in that video–stuff that you put up on the Internet on Facebook pages and Twitter pages and blogs and whatnot, they’re not meant to be private. Something that is out there for people to see cannot possibly be considered private, you’re basically broadcasting things for the very purpose of people to hear from you.

    I feel sorry for Kelvin Colvin (eek, what a name!) on some degree for getting fired BUT what he did was ultimately wrong and it was his employer’s right to fire him.

    In regards to the government using social media, I find that they’re usually very well moderated and they have tight social media policies that stop information from getting leaked. If you’ll visit the Queensland Police Service Twitter, they post things very regularly, every few minutes even throughout the wee hours of the morning, which means that there is a team behind it generating the content and they have the ability to cross-reference whether something they’re about to post is okay or not okay. For the QPS, they also have a Facebook page and this allows for a lot of communication between them and members of the public. People can ask questions without having to clog up police lines for times when urgent advice is needed, and there is a private messages function that prevents personal security leaks from getting out of control (should someone post personal details like phone numbers or addresses, etc).

    All in all, a good post, thanks for your insights 🙂

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