Company Confidential and That Twitter Leak!

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 9th Mar 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>IT & Ecommerce

Many young workers coming into the workplace today have been using Twitter and Facebook to communicate with their friends for much of their lives. Can they continue to use their favourite Social Media tools once they are in the workplace? Older workers have always learned to separate their work and social lives, but with social media the two are becoming embroiled.

Social Media A Part of your Life?

For many young workers coming into the workplace in the modern era have been used to using Twitter and Facebook in every aspect of their lives, staying in touch with the friends, brothers, sisters, cousins and just about anybody else they can think of. If anything of any significance happens it is Tweeted - that is their default mode of life, using Twitter or Facebook rather than using the phone, the advantage being they can broadcast crucial information to all of their friends at once without the pain of setting up a conference call, then chat about it with each person who is interested later. So much goes on to Twitter or Facebook, so what can be the harm?

Coming into the workplace everything changes, it is not just substituting school, college, or university, for an employer, sure someone who will pay the worker money to do things they like and how cool is that? BUT there are rules associated with going to work and they must be obeyed, or you will be fired.

Performing a Specific job

Well for the employer they bring in a young worker to perform a specific job and that does not include telling all their Twitter or Facebook friends what they are doing every ten minutes in the day, the specific details about their job must remain in confidence, and often the only people who know the full details of the employees remit are the employee and their boss. When an employee is brought on board they are done so to fulfill a specific role; to complete specific tasks, not to chat and socialise with their friends. The challenge here is that ALL the information that people handle at work is confidential and by definition MUST NOT be communicated to others outside that organisation; whoever they are, even if they are friends or family members.

In most workplaces there is also a lot of information that should not be communicated to others even within that organisation, these are business facts that every first-time worker has to come to grips with. These 'conditions' of their employment yet they are not necessarily written down nor do they form part of any employment contract. Yet every employee should be given a confidentiality, or non-disclosure, agreement which they should read, understand and sign the day they start work, truth is few really understand what they are signing and managers of new employees should really sit down the new employee and cover the implications explicitly. This agreement should limit what can or cannot be said to anyone, whatever the method of communications. Employees must always remember that walls have ears (especially Facebook walls) and it is all too easy for people to gain access to information they should not see.

Confidential, but...

Most employers have official ways in which anything can be communicated externally. Whilst Social Media necessitates change in such policies it is essential that protocol is followed albeit in a more relaxed fashion than before.

Business managers are fearful that things put out on Twitter are open and available to the public, this is very true; yet this can both be used to the organisation's advantage and disadvantage. The caring company actively manages their social media presence to ensure that they respond to customer concerns and at the same time being proactive to attract new business. This can become a great medium for spreading the word about prospective new products and sometimes a tactful whisper or leak about a future product can be a powerful tool to drive interest. All companies should have a social media policy which, in part, governs how public interactions are made via Twitter. At the same time it is essential this policy does not make communicating with your marketplace staid and old-fashioned. We are living with a new world of communications here and there should be NO NEED to have the Chief Marketing Officer authorise every message ever sent out; they should define a policy and ensure that relevant experts within the business can respond appropriately within the scope of those guidelines.

This still means that communications can be limited to certain specialists across the company. Our young worker releasing information that they should not could still be subject to discipline if they breach the confidentiality agreement they signed.

The same could also be true of confidential information placed into the public domain, through a post, when the company is involved in a collective bargaining process with a union or workers representatives. Breach confidentiality, whether by social media or by photocopying confidential documents, can still lead to dismissal.

Think Before you Act!

One of the things that is true with social media is that all too many people act without thinking, which can be harmful to their careers or professional standing, it is therefore important that people think before posting on Twitter. You may follow this author on Twitter as @pgiblett.

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Company Confidential, Confidentiality Agreement, Non-Disclosure Agreement, Social Media, Twitter Leak

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
12th Mar 2014 (#)

the good and bad news is as I see it the young today are following their chosen path, the one they came to do and sometimes their heads are buried in their machines they forget that life is here to be lived....

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
12th Mar 2014 (#)

Good evening, Peter, sound rationale, however, it is not just the young who engage in over sharing via social media. (From your article) "telling all their Twitter or Facebook friends what they are doing every ten minutes in the day". I am someone who discloses so it may appear as the pot calling the kettle black; however, there is a limit to what anyone should, and in the case of employment, ought to share. Thanks for a timely reminder. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Connie McKinney
12th Mar 2014 (#)

Good reminders, Peter. We all need to be careful about what we share in Facebook and Twitter, especially if it has to do with the workplace.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Mar 2014 (#)

Alternatively, when the job is writing, sharing is the name of the game. Working for one's self also has certain advantages. Unfortunately, a big paycheck may not be one of them... ;)

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author avatar Delicia Powers
13th Mar 2014 (#)

Many thanks...very important advice and information...

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
15th Mar 2014 (#)

Interesting post!

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author avatar Rose*
10th Apr 2014 (#)

I think people forget that everything they put online is searchable forever

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