Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Social Media Legal Risks in Enterprise 2.0

In my previous blog post, I discussed some of the major benefits and value levers of implementing Enterprise 2.0 tools in Starbucks. Recently, companies realized that they must use social technologies to cope with the digital era and improve their performance which will eventually increase their profits. However, several concerns have arisen regarding the misuse of social media that should be taken into consideration before implementing Enterprise 2.0 tools.

Firstly, to make things much easier, let’s talk about these legal risks within a context. Every company provides a customer with products or services. Therefore, I am going to examine InfoLawGroup as an example of potential legal risks in social technologies.

InfoLawGroup, which was established in October 2009, provides a wide range of legal services focused on information technology, privacy, data security, advertising and promotions, consumer protection matters, e-commerce and intellectual property.

Secondly, InfoLawGroup lawyers enable the firm to offer clients greatly increased efficiency in providing legal services. They have successfully served a diverse range of clients: from large Fortune 500 multinationals to small start-ups, ad agencies and technology service providers. InfoLawGroup currently using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and one of the Founding Partners of InfoLawGroup LLP claimed that “Facebookers and other social networkers often end up sharing a large amount of personal and professional information over time with friends”.

Being a heavy user of social media, there are hundreds of legal concerns that must pay attention to it. In this post, I would like to discuss three big legal risks in the InfoLawGroup:

Information Security Legal Risk

There are two main legal risks of security-related issues. To begin with, employees are accessing social media from company computers, or from their personal computers connected to company networks, malware and phishing. However, social engineering attacks could result in security breaches and legal liability. Secondly, potential confidential information leakage could result in an adverse business and legal impact when information is comprised by a third party.

Disparagement and Defamation

Social media environments provide a forum for defamatory statements to be made about individuals, and companies’ products and services. Employees may post comments that may not be fully accurate or true about an individual or a competitor’s products or services. This could lead to a potential lawsuit and liability. Furthermore, social media sites that allow comments may also involve such statements made by third parties over which the organization has no control.


Social media provides a platform for an interactive communications between companies and their customers. In turn, companies seek to use this knowledge to sell their products and services back to these customers. Social media platforms enable gathering of information, including sensitive personal information, in ways that were unimaginable few years ago. Companies leveraging social media can gain access to this personal information which eventually raises privacy concerns that could increase legal risks.

How to address these Risks?
So how do companies mitigate social media legal risks? Social media experts advise organizations to create a social media policy (SMP) for their employees that clearly states guidelines and monitor what said about the organization and the business. Using Social Media Policy is one of the best ways to mitigate the legal risks as it is a useful way to set some ground rules for employees with regard to their online activities. It's also a reminder that the content that they post may not belong to them and may ultimately affect the organization negatively.

  • Loss of confidential information;
  • Defamation;
  • False statements or misleading and deceptive conduct;
  • Reputation risk;

Additionally, as Malcolm Burrows demanded that, “Organisations should also ensure that those staff that are involved in social media in an official capacity are aware of the legal risks of participation so that they can respond appropriately when the time comes”. I feel that these risks can be appropriately managed through understanding, monitoring, and providing the guidance necessary to maximize its benefits to the organization by a strong enforcement of the social media policy.

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  1. Defamation is one that most companies should really be conscious of due to the fact that there is a very thin line between saying something about someone or something as a form of 'a joke' and the 'facts' about what you said. sometimes when so called employees post these comments, a message which is entirely contrary to what the poster meant in the comment is perceived by other readers, and we know that once something negative has been insinuated on social media, it spreads like wild fire..nice post

    1. Thanks for your comment. That's why each organization should implement Social Media policy to mitigate these legal risks.

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