Social Network Slips Should Scare IT, HR Execs

The rapid growth and adoption of consumer social networks, and their misuse within the enterprise, should frighten IT departments and corporate executives, according to SelectMinds, a provider of private corporate social networks for companies such as organizations J.P. Morgan, Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, Latham & Watkins, Schlumberger and Deloitte.

The company has identified some of the most recent blunders that have caused enterprise security concerns, personal and professional embarrassment, and HR involvement. Among the recent high-profile slip-ups have been the:

  1. Facebook Football Firing – In March 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles fired a part-time employee for his Facebook status update regarding a player being let go by the team.
  2. Domino’s Disgusting YouTube Dilemma – In April 2009, Domino’s employees uploaded a video on YouTube showing disgusting actions they performed while preparing orders. The employees were quickly fired and later arrested.
  3. Terrible Twitter Post – During a trip to visit a major client, James Andrews, a vice president at a global public relations firm, posted an unflattering remark about Memphis, the hometown of his client.
  4. Twitter Worm Trouble – More of a nuisance than harmful at this point, Twitter experienced a series of worm attacks over the Easter weekend apparently spread by a bored 17 year old.
  5. LindedIn Fake Out – In January 2009, Trend Micro uncovered several fake celebrity profiles on LinkedIn that were reportedly spreading malware.

“There are numerous examples of security concerns and inappropriate behavior on social networks. The bottom line is that open social networks originally intended for consumer use are not secure, governable platforms viable for corporate America,” said Anne Berkowitch, CEO, SelectMinds. “Businesses require dedicated tools that are built with their specific governance, control and security needs in mind.”

There are positive ways to utilize social networks as part of a high level corporate strategy, but these networks must be supported by enterprise-grade technology that meets strict regulatory and compliance standards. Overall, companies are looking for the best way to connect employees that ultimately will improve the business, and lower the risk of events such as the above that can tarnish a brand’s image.

It is interesting to note that a according to a survey of 233 HR professionals conducted by the Human Capital Institute, 26 percent count on public platforms for their networking needs. This, coupled with the fact that 20 percent of companies do not offer any type of networking solution, can mean that the only option for employees is unsecure sites.

“In the nine years we have been working with enterprises to deploy corporate social networks, there have been no reports of a security or conduct related incident on a network,” said Berkowitch. “This track record underscores the reliability and security a private social network can offer an enterprise.”

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