AccountingWEB is more than just a UK team of journalists and financial and technology experts. Our US colleagues at AccountingWEB.com share their ideas and insights.
News from across the pond: Facebook freedoms threatening business
The US is known for its fervent observation of freedom of speech, but it seems employers want the right to police the ‘Wild West’ of online networking sites.
According to the Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace survey, 60% of business executives in the States believe they have a right to know how employees portray themselves and their organisations in online social networks.
Unfortunately, employees don’t agree, with more than half arguing that their bosses shouldn’t be snooping on their social networking profiles. Younger workers are especially sensitive, with 63% of 18-24 year olds saying they did not want their firms monitoring their online activity.
Despite this, there is genuine concern over the risks of using these sites and 74% of respondents said that social networking sites make it easier for staff to damage a company’s reputation.
Although the risks were evident to most, not many firms have worked out how to deal with it. The survey found that only 17% of those questioned had systems in place to monitor and mitigate risks to their reputations.
It’s a topic that’s been gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic, and UK businesses have been just as wary of sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. In a recent article for our UK sister site BusinessZone.co.uk, technology correspondent Jon Wilcox revealed that two thirds of City firms have banned or restricted employee access to Facebook.
Sharon Allen, chairman of the board for Deloitte LLP told AccountingWEB.com: “One third of employees surveyed never consider what their boss or customers might think before posting material online. This fact alone reinforces how vulnerable brands are as a result of the increased use of social networks”.
One of the key issues here is that of control: Social networking puts the reputation of firms into the hands of employees, thus removing the firm’s power to steer its own course. The survey revealed that even where defined guidelines for use of sites like Facebook and Twitter were in place, 49% of staff said it would not change their online behaviour.
So how do you keep hold of a workforce determined to spread its own messages about you? The short answer, in my view, is that you can’t possibly manage what everyone says about you every minute of the day. The trick, as Jon Wilcox’s article concludes, is to ‘loosen control while not losing control’.
Check out the original US article here