Navigating the Social Media Legal Minefield – Part 2 – Know Thy Enemy

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Enterprise 2.0

As we explored in Part 1, any Government has reason to be wary of social media and the legal implications that go with it. So we know that there are risks, but where do they come from?

Firstly, I highly suggest you get your bearing by checking out a Map of The Internet.

There are a number of risks associated with social media within an organisation however I would like to focus on four key risk areas I feel are highly relevant no matter what sector you work for:

– Technology (Covered in this blog post)

– Reputation (Covered in this blog post)

– Information (Covered in part 3)

– Statutory risks (Covered in part 3)
Through many years on the internet and working in an information security role, my interactions with the majority of people look something like this:

This might be seen as pessimistic, until you start looking at what real world consequences can result when ‘Risks go Wild’… it’s far less sexy than the American College girl you’re picturing in your head I assure you… now get your mind out of the gutter and focus!

Let’s look at how these stack up and where a good policy can work towards mitigating risk as much as possible:

– Technology – Why people are afraid of it

No, seriously, people are afraid, they don’t understand it, they find it difficult to comprehend and this can mean having a very frustrated customer on the other end of a Helpdesk phone call.  To highlight this this, a recent study even found 51% of those surveyed believed the ‘Cloud’ was affected by the weather.

The flipside is you may actually have a very cleaver social engineer on the other end trying to steal your Apple account details. The scary thing is this actually happened to happened to Mat Honan of WIRED magazine fame who had his whole Apple identity compromised.

Educating your users and having a policy that enforces this is key to ensuring technology is used to benefit the organisation rather than expose it to further risks. Simple giving open access to new technology that people have no idea probably looks something like this:

– Reputation

For a crash course on managing your online reputation, I highly recommend getting staff or users to read Anton Koekemoers article on How to manage your social reputation. This will set the groundwork for users who have never heard of ChirpChrip or BookFace before by giving them the basics.

These basics need to be enshrined in company policy, especially for Government as they represent the public face of what is often perceived as a ‘faceless’ organisation. Who are the men and women in suits? What do they do? Why are they going through my garbage bin? Those cuban cigars aren’t mind I swear! Castro? Isn’t that a milkshake? I digress…

The point I’m trying to make is that even if you’re not a multi-billion dollar enterprise, you still have a public face. For Governments this lesson is essential as you’re delivering human services to the public, and you want to be damn sure they feel valued and appreciated especially when the people you are delivering services to are they ones paying your salary.

To elaborate on an example from Part 1, can you image if the Police posted up a picture of a person in handcuffs with the caption “GOT THE BASTARD!! #cops>crims #21jumpstreetallupinthismotha #yeeeaboi”. What message does this send the public? Do they feel protected by upstanding people who put their lives on the line everyday? Or do they see a bunch of cowboys who are a law unto themselves.

Presenting a clean, professional image yet human image to the public ensures a solid reputation is established. This is cemented by ensuring staff are either limited to what they can post by incorporating Technology, limiting who can post on behalf the department in question and of course having reviewers and approvers before it sees the light of day.

More to come!

Information and Statutory Risks will be discussed in Part 3!


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