Social media misuse taking a dark turn

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Some 90% of businesses are now using social media for business purposes, which correlated with the percentage of employees doing the same during working hours.

In the early days, many employers tried to impose bans on what they perceived as a distraction from what employees were being paid to do.
Now, the boundaries between personal and professional use are increasingly blurred.

According to a report by international legal firm Proskauer, which looked into global developments in the employer management of social media, employers’ concerns relating to abuse are less an issue of time distraction and related to more worrisome issues.

The survey showed the main types of misuse being encountered were:
  • Misuse of confidential information (80%)
  • Misrepresenting views of the employer (71%)
  • Inappropriate non-business use (67%)
  • Disparaging remarks about the employers or other employees (64%)
  • Harassment (64%)
The report also suggested five ways employers can better manage the misuse of social media:

1. Conduct an audit to benchmark policies and practices related to social media. The sheer pace of technology change demands that the employer’s guidelines must adapt to developments.

2. Training must be a priority. It reduces risk and is more effective in bringing about a voluntary change in behaviour than punitive regulation.
3. Employers should identify specific risks to their businesses (possibly industry-specific) and deal with these accordingly.
4. Implement clear guidelines – supported by communication and engaging sessions.
5. Consider the aspect of ex-employees and your response.
About the author

Gary Taylor is an HR Director who has worked for Australian, South African and British multinationals on two continents. He is registered as a Master HR Practitioner with the South African Board for People Practice, and served as a vice president of the Institute of People Management.

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