Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

To Friend or Not to Friend

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The dilemmas of social media

Social networking has become very popular in the last few years. It seems that everyone and their grandmother has a Facebook or Twitter account. Hell, some people still use MySpace. This increasing popularity raises many questions of etiquette regarding when and what to share and who to friend or follow. So, where do you draw the line? My first instinct is to advise use of common sense, but I donít believe that the answer is that simple. It really does depend on the individual, but there are many considerations to be made before you post something.

Did you know that businesses are now taking to the web, especially social media sites, to stake out potential employees? Next time youíre punching up your resume, think about punching up your Facebook page and maybe dropping those pictures from that pub crawl you did last month. Sure, some employers are going to think that youíre fun and colorful; however, this is not likely.

Itís not just those seeking new employment that need to take this into consideration; these social media sites actually give an employer the right to check up on your personal life. Iíve worked in large offices for many years and there are plenty of things about my personal life that I did not wish to share with anyone in my workplace. So, is this invasion of privacy? Though some may disagree, I say absolutely not. If you put something on the web, unless you turn your privacy settings up to the max, youíre putting your information out there for anybody see. Should they do it? Once again, you may disagree, but I say it depends on the situation. Many people post their work information on their profiles and some employeesí deeds may be bad for business. Can you fire someone for something they posted online? Yes, and itís perfectly legal.

This brings to mind another question. Do you friend your co-workers or even your boss? This is where it gets hinky. Security settings will allow for an innocuous friendship, so you can avoid the awkward decision of whether or not to accept your bossí friend request. Accept it, but lock them out of what youíre actually posting. Or, you can choose to leave work at work and keep your social networking fun to between you and your buddies. If you do choose to friend your boss and/or co-workers, take caution. They might not care that you were dancing on the bar or doing body shots off of a stripper; but, when youíre playing hookie, you might want to stick to that story you used when you called in sick that morning. Donít mention how you went to the zoo, or whatever it is you do when you play hookie.

Then, of course, thereís whether or not you should recommend that your friends like your business. Maybe this is a personal endeavor or itís your day job. Discretion is key here. Personally, all of my friends are subject to these suggestions. Most of the people on my friends list understand who I am and what I do, so they either like it or ignore it. If you have a small business or youíre promoting your band, cast a wide net. If you donít want to impose, donít impose. But, think about this, why are these people on your friends list? Who are they to you and how do you know them? You donít have to suggest it to all of our friends, think of those who your suggestion may benefit most and start there.

It all comes down to discretion. Why are you on Facebook and/or Twitter? Social media is imperative in todayís tech-dependent society. What better way to get the word out? Social media today is the equivalent of standing on top of a soap box in a town square eighty years ago. Some people are going to stop and listen while others continue on their way. This is your voice with a much bigger amplifier.

Author - Michele Hale

Michele is an indie author and publisher from Austin, Texas. She loves roller derby, tattoos and science fiction. She is the founder of Cowgirlie Publishing and is currently working on a three-book sci-fi series due out in 2011.


Your boss hates Farmville…

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

...not if you get fired first...

Despite warnings from employers and guidelines outlining proper company equipment usage, a recent study from Cisco indicates that Enterprise users continue to access social networking sites and tend their virtual crops in Farmville.

The study shows that of the employees surveyed, 50% confessed to ignoring social media policies at least once a week while 27% were guilty of reconfiguring settings on their corporate devices in order to access content and applications which were expressly forbidden by their employer. Of those verboten applications accessed, the number one application accessed was Farmville. Not far behind were games like Mafia Wars, Cafť World, and Treasure Isle.

The primary focus of the report is network security with Cisco demonstrating that one of the largest threats to Enterprise networks is Social Networking sites. Unsurprisingly, the document goes on to analyze the impact of social networking and the games it offers on workplace productivity. While the number of people who spent an excessive amount of time on Farmville and the like was below 10%, there was evidence that those individuals spent an average of 68 minutes per day tending their web crops while in the office. That comes out to approximately 295 hours a year. Thatís 7.4 weeks out of the 52 week year. And you wonder why your boss gets grumpy when you Tweet from workÖ

The overall message of the report is that while social networking is a great tool for getting your companyís product into the public eye that allowing rampant use can not only lead to a loss of productivity but can open your business up to hackers and cybercriminals. Sadly, I see the persons who are most at risk on a daily basis, individuals who donít lock down their personal information and happily open any attachment that comes their way.

If youíd like to see the full report, you can access it here.


Gritskrieg Ė End of Line

Privacy Group Harshes Google’s Buzz

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

It would appear that privacy watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center took a bit of offense with Google creating “circles of friends” via the addition of the “Buzz” feature in their Gmail services… Ya know, without anyone’s permission.

At least that’s what EPIC is claiming. And based on the way the feature worked when it launched last week, I have a hard time disagreeing. Here’s how it works: Buzz is essentially Google’s attempt at a new social networking tool. It creates “circles of friends” based on your most frequently used contacts in Gmail. Don’t see the problem? BAM! Your mother and the girl/guy you’re seeing that you haven’t quite told moms about yet in the same “circle of friends”. Oops.

The privacy group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission yesterday claiming Buzz violates federal consumer protection law. These charges have been challenged by Google after it made changes to the way Buzz works, essentially making mere suggestions to users rather than throwing them into groups automatically, but not before Google had already been blasted by users and other groups for the initial problem.

The issue here is that we’re already to the point of damage done, the infamous leap before looking. It was, in theory, a good idea for those who may want their social networking a bit more automated but it bordered on negligent by providing personal information to individuals whom users may not have wished to have that information.

The changes made would appear to have calmed some fears on the part of the users but it does raise the question of what checks and balances are in place to prevent future abuse from occurring. While the Buzz tool now merely suggests new “friends”, the ability to use Gmail without having Buzz “looking over your shoulder”, as it were, is not an option. If you use Gmail, you are using Buzz.

And this is EPIC’s argument, that the Buzz feature should allow users to choose to “opt in” before it becomes active or at least offer users the opportunity to opt out before being added to a social network of any kind. And again I would agree.

While it falls in the purview of the user to protect their data when sending and receiving emails, how are they allowed to do the same when their data is made available to a database that is intended to match people based solely on how often they communicate with one another.

I see EPIC’s point and tend to agree with it. I see what Google was attempting to do and applaud them for their enthusiasm but was there no focus group or some form of user testing to see where the public stood on having their private information made available to other users, regardless of how often they were in contact with one another?

If the reverse had been done, a social networking site providing email addresses to people we contacted through their site, the uproar would perhaps be considerably more. It would not only be irresponsible but unethical. In many cases, people prefer to receive messages from people they’ve met on social networking sites through said sites, not through their personal email addresses. That’s what those alerts are for, after all.

Let’s just hope nobody gets any bright ideas…


Gritskrieg – End of Line