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August 1, 2014

Using Social Media Wisely

Originally Updated 12/07/2011 © 2011 ePlace Solutions, Inc.

By Jennifer Paradise

Facebook, Twitter and other social media can lead to liability for the company, even when used from outside of the workplace and during your own free time. Employee use of social media can:

  • Lead to disclosure of confidential company information, or
  • Lead to disclosure of confidential personal information of our customers or clients.

These disclosures are usually innocent, although negligent, and not designed to harm the company.

A new breed of evil hackers is growing.  Hackers use social media to assist with:

  • Spearphishing attacks with other employees at the company, generating seductive messages that appear to come from trusted friends.    
  • Infecting a corporate network with malware and viruses, exploiting vulnerable networks, stealing intellectual property.  

Data breaches can be an enormous expense for the company. Depending on the size of the breach, a company could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars, notifying the victims of the breach and/or dealing with legal actions filed by the state attorney general or victims of the breach.

There are other potential liabilities outside of data privacy and security. Believe it or not, the Federal Trade Commission or FTC has rules about publishing testimonials in support of the company's products and services.

You can help protect the company from potential liability when you are engaging in social media at home or anywhere else.

  1. Never disclose the Company’s trade secrets or other confidential proprietary information
  2. Never disclose private or personal information related to (a) clients or customers, and (b) Company employees, managers, supervisors, senior management, officer, board member, or owners.  This includes, for example, financial information, Social Security Numbers, etc.
  3. Don’t disclose client/customer names, client/customer information, or the work the Company performs for such client/customers unless such information is already in the public domain, for example listed on the Company’s website.
  4. If you say something online in support of the Company, its products or services, even if you are using a personal account, disclose your relationship with the Company.
  5. Don’t accept “friend requests” from anyone you don’t know personally, including friends of friends.  Your Facebook friends see all of your personal information along with that of your friends and associates.