social media gray areas
An ethical approach to social media monitoring
requires understanding and common sense
by Avner Levin
Social media and mobile technology have combined to create unprecedented access to people around the world, and we’ve never been more connected than we are today, with smartphones in hand, updating our Face- book pages, checking in on Foursquare, tweeting our thoughts and moves as they occur. At work, these tools allow us to identify and reach audiences eas- ily and create a multimedia dialogue that opens the lines of communication as they never have been before. But it’s also true that mobile technology and social media have blurred the boundaries between work and personal life. This can lead to confusion about, for example, how organi- zations can or should monitor what employees ay about them when they use the same devices to do their jobs and communicate with their friends, and what infor- mation employees should or should not disclose in their personal social media communication. Communication professionals, tasked with both safeguarding a company’s reputation as well as engaging its employees, can get caught in the middle. An ethical approach to the use and monitoring of social media at work balances the right of employees to control their image online with the right of organizations to do the same. Here are some prac- tical ways that commu- nication professionals, along with their colleagues in human resources, can help their company understand that balance.