Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Social media usage among employees

For the past several years, many major businesses and corporations have been implementing vetting procedures for new employees using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The information gleaned from these networks can provide invaluable information as to the competency and professionalism of many potential employees. The photo tagging and status updates of these networks can help employers find out the daily habits and various nocturnal activities of new recruits that many of them may wish to keep hidden. Many have raised objections to these practices citing invasion of privacy of the employees, yet despite these objections, there is usually no way to prove that a company has violated any laws. And despite the looming threat of termination or denial of employment, many young professionals still neglect to curb any potentially embarrassing behaviors.

Many businesses that utilize these social media networks have valid concerns about their name being sullied by the individuals they employ. There is a great deal of give-and-take in the rights of individuals to express themselves on online, and for corporations to maintain proper decorum and to protect their reputations. For the employee, a recent tool has been created to help manage the content that potential employers see when they begin researching new employees. Reputation Defender is a site that helps potential employees find everything about themselves that exists on the web in an effort to clean it up for anyone that might be researching.

In a recent article in the New York Times, a tool was discussed that acts almost as the inverse of Reputation Defender. Nextpoint helps companies find everything that has been discussed or mentioned on social media, whether it be positive or negative, about one of their products, an upcoming marketing push, or the company itself. The point of Nextpoint is to archive the data in a way that will help them manage what is said about their company or product on the various social media services.

Although the legality and privacy concerns that these kinds of tools create is still being debated, companies will continue to monitor the actions of their employees if they have concern for the image they represent. Many businesses are now offering seminars or employee training on how to avoid the pitfalls of embarrassing social media practices that could lead to termination.

A more in-depth explanation of what both employers and employees are allowed to do in regard to their social media activity can be found here and here.

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