A recent study by Robert Half and Associates found that 54% of companies ban the use of public social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in the workplace. The reasoning could be that productivity would be hampered, or that your organization must be compliant with regulations from the SEC, FINRA, Sarbanes Oxley, or HIPAA. The risks are real. Confidential information can be revealed, and brands can be damaged. As an executive at a company, would you ever post a question to your friends on LinkedIn, such as “What is the best way to terminate an under-performing product manager?” Believe it or not, it happens.
One of our alliance partners, Socialware, has been tackling this issue with technology solutions, and starting today is offering free products. Social Marketer renders a new toolbar in the page that allows users to choose if their messages are public, or internal to the enterprise. Internal status updates will get search optimized and put into a unified stream, while personal ones may have different retention rules . Another product, Risk Manager, allows for rules-based moderation of tweets, posts, and updates.
Here is a screenshot (click it for a larger image) of the administration console for managing the social network traffic. It provides for some pretty interesting and granular control of which types of messages and events are allowed, disallowed, and moderated. You could, for instance, block Facebook chat and all the Facebook applications (which may typically be games) while encrypting or moderating status updates. A rule can be created that could moderate or block any message that contains something with the format of a social security number, or credit card number.
While all of this is taking place, all the message traffic is being retained and archived to support retention policies and regulatory requirements.
A comprehensive solution to the issue of managing the public social networks in the enterprise would address the people issues, contain process modifications, and utilize technology like Socialware. Considering that these are the places where employees already congregate, it makes sense to leverage them rather than attempting to drive adoption of look-a-like tools that could be run on-premise.
Socialware is providing an important piece of the puzzle that enables employees to use these new tools, while mitigating risk at the same time.