An interesting evening at ADM on “Do you really want to end up in court because of social media” just showed us – again – on how social media/new media are challenging traditional privacy paradigm, legal issues, corporate policies, …. Looking through legal glasses you better keep away from social media, since most things you do could get you end up in court; Did you get permission from all the people on your photo’s to publish them online? Have you ever posted any update(s) that could discriminate your employer? Do you always ask permission from other people to use their quotes? …. And on the other side, have you ever read any legal notices before you agreed on using an APP? Do you always push ‘I confirm’ as I do? Knowing that you’ll probably give away all your data….Enough food for thought!
Giving your data for free is not so difficult today. Most companies just ask you to confirm their terms of condition, and “boom” you give your permission to use (and sometimes give) your data to the APP or company behind this. Wether this is legal or not, isn’t completely relevant since 99% are just pressing “I confirm” without knowing what they are agreeing with! From a legal point of view this probably isn’t legal at all, and subjected to the privacy legislation…but who cares in “online country”. Your data are probably kept on servers in China, USA and God know where else…so is this Belgian or EU law even enforceable?
BUT even more scary is that all the data (posts, comments, pictures, personal data, …) remains available for API developers and users, even when you thought you put it private or even deleted it! This is one side of the problem…
On the other hand, you could wonder whether we haven’t given up our privacy 25 years ago with the introduction of bank cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, … and is this just the online version!
The second problem is far more subtile; using social media and social media awareness in your life. Let’s make our life simple: we have our private (or personal) life and our professional life. I know this is simplifying things, but it will show full perspective on the problem!
First of all ask check the following questions for your own life/company:
- Do you have (free and full) internet access at your work?
Are you allowed to use social media during your work – hours?
- Do you have fixed working hours?
- Does your job demand you to get in contact with other persons (inside or outside the company)?
- Does your company have an Internet/Email/Social media policy? (all three, or only one or two of them?)
Are you aware and informed of this policy?
- Have you ever posted something (status update, pictures, …) that could connect you to your company or co-workers?
Back in the days (19th and early 20th century) it was easy, you had a working life and a private life which didn’t mix that often due to the nature of the work (blue-collar labour), but in the 21st century most labour isn’t blue-collar anymore. White collar working has made it a lot easier for people to mix personal and professional life….mobile technological evolutions made “Bring Your Own Device” already a standard in a lot of companies, facilitating work whenever, where-ever and however….the 24/7 work status was born, but showed huge impact on our private life. Our private life is mixed through our professional life, thanks (?) to technology (who uses two cell phones, two laptops, two tablets, …. to separate work from private?) and organization (flexible working hours, (distance) working from home, ….). So this must lead into schizophrenic situations where on the one hand side you have your personal life (and opinion) but on the other hand are bound to company rules and secrecy….A ‘send’ or ‘status’ button is quickly pushed when your boss just gave an early scoop on tomorrows new product!
It’s quite difficult to separate your own personal life from your professional one thanks to the amplification of your message through your social graph. As long a you keep everything clean, and don’t mention where you work (never – ever, since all your date will remain traceable remember!) you have a good shot of staying under the radar, but most people are using their social media profile (whether its Facebook, LinkedIn or something else) for professional goals as well (…and you do so just by telling where you work and when you started working there). Recruitment through social media is booming business! But with this total interference of private and professional life we have given up our privacy as well! Social media gives people the power to connect and share, which means basically giving up privacy. For this reason awareness around (social) media literacy needs to be the goal in every company and education program. The policy which is installed by your company is only a tool to help people be aware of the impact of this new (social) media evolution.
We all know legislation runs behind new trends, but I wonder whether this 19th century vision (and law) on privacy, copyrights, … is even understanding what 21st communication and interaction is all about. What frightens me the most is that our politicians aren’t able to adapt to the legislation to this new sociological era…
One thing is for sure: Privacy has become a verb! You have got to work hard to maintain it!