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Online networking hits confidentiality July 1, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Blogging, Internet Safety, Microsoft.

Do you want to find out what’s happening at Microsoft? You could visit the company website and navigate your way through the home page, or you could go instead to Mini-Microsoft, the blog of an anonymous employee that has become a soap box for employee discontent over the past three years.

Here you can find details of managerial pay packages, bonuses and share awards. If that does not help you, there are alternative commentaries in the blogs of Mini-Microsoft India and Mini-Microsoft France.

Corporate confidentiality and communications policies have been ripped to shreds by the social networking phenomenon that has spread like a bushfire, taking advantage of internet platforms supported by second generation web technology that allow ease of access and individual content management.

Social networking and blogging sites have created opportunities for people to exchange information on companies in a way that can enhance or harm a corporate reputation or brand.

Richard Mosely, Managing Director of People in Business, a consultancy that advises companies about how to build and retain a so-called “employer brand”, says that companies are being forced to take notice of internet sites and web-based forums that are sharing information and opinions on employers. “When we are asked to audit employer brands it is not simply a matter of looking at the way companies want to present themselves, it is about the reality of the brand experienced as it is shared in various public arenas,” says Mosely.

The ubiquity of website use and the flourishing of social networking sites is changing the relationship that companies have between their employees, customers and potential recruits. But the changes are not one-sided. Recruiting companies are finding that information held on the internet can be valuable in assessing the character of potential recruits.

Information can flow both ways, however. Last year, a job-hunting Yale student, Aleksey Vayner, was embarrassed to learn that a video he had produced to support the CV he had sent to UBS, the investment bank, had been posted on YouTube. It showed him breaking bricks in karate, pumping weights, and ballroom-dancing.

The ridicule it attracted led to him taking leave of absence from college and to a leak inquiry at the bank. Such cases demonstrate that the changing nature of work, including the opportunity to work anywhere, the ease of transfer of information, and the speed and access of the Web, is making it increasingly difficult for companies to keep a lid on their internal relations.



1. annie55 - July 3, 2007

I think it’s just going to encourage businesses to become more transparent in just about everything they do, because chances are, if they aren’t, someone will blow the whistle and the web will keep the conversation going and any dodgy dealing or ungentlemanly behaviour with regard to employees will be rooted out.

If social media popularity is spurring a trend of more accountable business practice, then we should embrace it with open arms. Going are the 80s days of shady deals, and incoming is a newish age of partnerships and alliances being brokered on often fairly public access sectors of sites such as Second Life.

The bigger problem for individuals seems to be more about when your professional life gets unwelcomly jumbled into your personal life, and how it’s far more difficult these days to maintain a truly private personal life away from work. Mark Darby of Visa Europe made an interesting comment with The Curse of Facebook during his guest blogger stint on the Melcrumblog:

2. grhomeboy - July 3, 2007

The curse of any social networking sites its a reality someone has to admit before posting his/hers profile on the web. Someone has to keep in mind that there is a thin line to be kept out there in the web’s jungle. A social networking site may be good for certain reasons as well as it may be bad for other reasons.

Definetely the thin line to be justified can only be found beyond the motives of an individual posting a profile online. The thin line to be kept should also differentiate those “personal details” from the “business details”.

Facebook started as a university/college project, and in short time was wideley spread, with not only uni/college students keeping an online facebook profile but thousands of other individuals rushed to get one. An anarchy which at the end it may cost you dearly, unless you do take care, precautions, think twice, measures, etc etc before posting what you want others to know about you.

Controlling what and with whom you share is a good measure but I think this is not the only solution, in order to safeguard yourself.

There’s a lot to be done yet, and the path is still narrow.

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