Walls Have Ears: Are Competitors examining Your Facebook Wall?

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

They used to say in World War two that walls have ears, this can certainly be true of your Facebook Wall. Have you ever thought about the things you post and their potential relevance to a business competitor? It is all to easy to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Constant Communication

Social Media brings with it an ability to constantly be communicating, from the time we awake till dropping of back to sleep. It is argued that this blurs the line between our personal and work lives, especially as some workers seem to want to stay in constant contact with their followers giving out titbits of information when they are best staying silent.

Constant Work

It is questionable whether this phenomenon is brought about purely by Social Media. The same argument was made with the advent of the smartphone; especially when the Blackberry allowed many people to bring their work email home with them. Even before this many professionals and executives within the workforce had to supply their employers with home and mobile telephone numbers and were therefore contactable on a 24 * 7 basis.

Certainly any pressure to work outside business hours blurs the distinction between personal and work time. Many people have become victims of this situation which has certainly contributed to growing divorce statistics, increasing addiction and suicide rates in many parts of the world.

When Social Media entered the scene it was against an already troubled backdrop in society. Yet its influence has largely been a positive one. From a personal perspective it puts us in touch with others in our profession and helps build relationships. What Social Media does is change how easy it is to publish content, for example copy information from a confidential document to a social site, by a few clicks of the mouse.

More Visible

Yet with every positive are negatives. Social Media has made personal activities more visible because the pictures of that drunken night out can so easily be found as the result of a Google search. Additionally many of the things some sites may encourage us to do perhaps ought to be thought about more before taking any action, but a 2am there is rarely any thought made to a post made via a smart-phone. Posting drunken pictures on Facebook, Flikr, or any other social site is definitely a bad idea. Not only is your boss able to see them, but so can any future prospective employer, overall reducing your employability.

Part of the problem here is the need to maintain a professional persona at all times. Do stupid things and employers are likely to find out. Social Media ensures everything is more visible and this can certainly be a problem.

Is the Impact of Social Media creating Legal concerns?

It is perhaps less the drunken forays that are of concern and more the prospect of giving away confidential material or corporate secrets that concerns the average CEO.

Many of the Facebook generation that have grown up telling their friends everything they do must realise there has to be separation between what they do with friends and what they do at work. Work demands both full attention and the maintenance of confidences. This may be a tough change for them when entering the workforce; but change they have to!

For this generation the potential for confidential information leakage on social media sites must always be considered. Consider this:

    Even if confidential information is not conveyed directly directly through a single status post or update, it is possible for aggregated social media postings by multiple employees to yield valuable competitive information and remember competitors are always listening.

As they used to say in World War 2 - the walls have ears, and this is certainly true of your Facebook Wall. Companies are actively mining data available on social sites with the hope of gathering enough bits and pieces of information to provide them with a competitive edge. So this problem is not going to go away. The problem: an individual posts what they see as harmless information about their co-workers, boss, or the project they are working on. That 'innocent remark' made on a social site made late at night can be interpreted by a competitor and can become problematic for any corporation. Any employee divulging confidential information can end up creating a legal liability for themselves or the company.

Competitive intelligence

Of course the same method could be used to convey dis-information, perhaps something many businesses have not thought about.

Competitive intelligence is the action of defining, gathering, analysing and interpreting information about products, customers, competitors as used by executives in making strategic business decisions. Spying on your competitors is viable using social media and readily available tools can help any corporation set-up a listening station with minimal expense.

The key issues in this area can be:

  • Can Social Media Activity be Used as Grounds for Dismissal?
  • Privacy - Every connection can see the things you post as can the public at large.
  • Hacking accounts and identifying passwords, many passwords are the same at work.
  • Social networking addiction
  • Developing a Social Media Policy

Walls Have Ears

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 Facebook.

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Competitive Intelligence, Confidential Document, Constant Communication, Facebook, Facebook Generation, Facebook Page, Facebook Wall, Google Search, Legal Liability, Professional Persona, Social Media, Walls Have Ears

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 Lady Aiyanna
17th Mar 2014 (#)

On Facebook you are publicly private so its always safer to know what is needed to be spoken rather than having idiots post nonsense on the wall. I had an idiot post nonsense on my public profile and I just read it replied and later pulled it off the wall. Learnt that certain things are better left unsaid and although things are freely available, it doesn't necessarily mean it is free. Everything in this world has a price tag. A Facebook page is the same and the owner always knows best and you should know the way how to handle life. Have had the companies monitoring my accounts and I found out as they had a loudmouth who spoke in subtle terms and I figured out what was happening and finally played their game against them and walked out.
Fact, it is illegal and cannot be done unless its a crime although many have tracking software and that it classified as malware.
Have a good armour/virus scan and best info is gotten from the servers not through hacking and the malware can be deleted. From personal experience.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
17th Mar 2014 (#)

Peter won't speak much about my account, but it is a registered account with Facebook as in I have provided my personal credentials and identification details to them and they are aware of the risks on my account and hence it is constantly monitored.

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author avatar Songbird B
17th Mar 2014 (#)

You have raised some excellent points here Peter, and I hope brought an awareness about the dangers of possibly saying just too much on social media..An important lesson indeed.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
17th Mar 2014 (#)

most interesting Peter...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Mar 2014 (#)

Social media can help and harm. A site that posts often can stay on top of things. A site that posts rarely is more likely to have radio silence at a bad time, which has proven bad for customer loyalty and stock values. People must learn to use their tools to their greatest effectiveness. (That said, I've got something I need to check on my author page...) ;)

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author avatar joyalariwo
17th Mar 2014 (#)

I think its better to give less information about what's personal on any social media.... what you send out out in a bit of fun, can come back and bite you in the worst possible way.

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author avatar Rose*
10th Apr 2014 (#)

Well there was that case where JK Rowling's pseudonym for her crime series was given away carelessly on twitter. People just arn't careful about what they post

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author avatar Ptrikha
25th Apr 2014 (#)

Unfortunately, I have seen a brazen attitude in many people and they feel what is the harm if they convey certain information in public("To kya Ho gaya " translated: "So what?").
I believe there ought to be a discretion between what we do in office and what we do in personal live(s). Perhaps, companies ought to conduct sensitization or acclimatization sessiones, especially to campus and new joiners. Some companies have enacted a BYOD policy at workplace, and many have upcoming Social Media usage policy. Still, there could be employees who flout the norms, and they need to be warned strictly.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
25th Apr 2014 (#)

&Ptrikha I agree that companies ought to conduct sensitization or acclimatization sessions, indeed I have been making this suggestion for years and have even offered such training.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
21st Jul 2014 (#)

Congrats on your status as Author of the Day!

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