Should we let employers access our private social media?

No. Period. There is no discussion.

However, the ever rising “threat” of social media (and an open Internet) still scares the manure out of many businesses and governments.

DarkCloudsBut, we do not hand over our paper mail, we do not let ‘agents’ follow us around at a party or let them listen in at the diner table. So, why is “social media privacy” so different?

Because it’s all digital and not to difficult to access (all you need is a password). Our privacy can be violated so much easier. Now, when (some) employers are vetting their current and new employees, they ask for the account name and password.

This is, of course, ludicrous.

Dark clouds are gathering

A question posted on Reddit mentioned a company demanding access to the Facebook and LinkedIn accounts of their employees. Not handing over this information could lead to termination. Yes, read that again.

Give up your passwords (and your privacy) or get fired.

Naturally, they have excellent reasons, such as; preventing insider trading or sharing information which investors aren’t allowed to see, you know, protect the innocent.

And now US congress shot down a “Facebook privacy protection” law, this just makes me wonder; Why?
Facebook’s terms of service clearly states you are not allowed to give your password to anyone, so an employer can’t ask you to violate that agreement (why should there be a law at all?).

Keeping taps

Monitoring public expressions of employees on social media outlets is perfectly legal, and it makes sense too. It can (potentially) give a company some insights into an employee’s behaviour. Besides, the company should monitor the various social platforms anyway.., to protect its on-line reputation.

But, private is private for a reason.

Besides, as an employer, you don’t ask for private information of your CEO, do you? There is plenty of information kept secret which could be of high value to a job seeker. No full disclosure there.

In the old days

How did they ‘prevent’ the disclosing of sensitive information before social media?

Well, they had you sign a non-disclosure agreement. And a mandatory training explained any communication guidelines and the risks involved.

And, depending on the severity of the violation, you could be reprimanded, fired or be charged criminally. And, apparently this worked just fine. So, now, with new technology, why demand access to it? Just because they can?

I understand that when dealing with sensitive information employees need to be careful, but that’s always been the case. Granted, the speed at which information can spread has increased dramatically, and I do understand the need to address this. But, not at the cost of ones privacy.

Create awareness

As with all things, if your not aware of it, you can’t act on it.

The problem with social media, and blogs, is that common sense seems to take an early retirement. Leaving people to do incredibly stupid things, things they might never have done otherwise. Or it was very less likely that someone would find out.

Coaching employees, educating them on the pitfalls of social media can go a long way, maybe even all the way.

Be aware

For users of social platforms it becomes more and more important to keep your professional life in mind. Employers will google you, they will check your LinkedIn and anything else they can dig up.., why wouldn’t they. They might even use your Klout score to assess potential value.

Yes, I know, it’s all algorithms and air, but is it really? As soon as something can be used against you.., it’s no longer “virtual”, is it? When what you do, or what you say on-line affects you in the real world.., well, then even your Klout score becomes a real value.

And (real) private stuff? Keep it safe, keep it hidden.

Have encountered any privacy violations at work? Leave a cautionary tale in the comments.

We no longer have any privacy, or do we?

privacyThis discussion is no longer based on a single platform or service. By now it covers your whole digital life and not just on the Internet.
And you need to be vigilant.

We still have privacy.
You just can’t assume everything is just that.

Continue reading “We no longer have any privacy, or do we?”

The big data path to exceptional customer experience

Originally posted on Written by Peter Borner

At the 13th annual PEX Week Europe event this week big data was a constant theme as speakers regaled the audience with stories of how the flood of data now available to process professionals can help them deliver the continuous improvement they so desire.

The appeal is an obvious one.  Just as biologists have long had the ability to look inside the human body to see exactly how it works, companies now have so much data that they have the capability to do the organisational equivalent.

The potential exists to observe and describe our organisations and their operating environments in finer detail, allowing managers to ask new questions, solve old problems and innovate in intriguing ways.

A seminar at MIT held by Erik Brynjolfsson and Alex Pentland last month shed some more light on just how valuable big data can be.  The seminar, titled Big Data: Making Complex Things Simpler, suggested a number of major implications of big data usage:

  1. Cheap experiments – The wealth of data available to retailers has now made it possible to run fast, cheap experiments.  For instance Amazon regularly runs experiments so that their process improvements are supported by real-time data from actual customers.
  2. Privacy concerns – The seminar also raised the concern surrounding the privacy of data held on customers.  What are companies doing with mobile data for instance that can pin down an individuals movements?  Should customers have complete control and ownership of their personal data?  Do you own data that refers to you and if so, can you then sell it?

At PEX Week Connie Moore from Forrester referred to the need for Big Process to sit alongside Big Data.  Forrester regard big process as:

“Methods and techniques that provide a more holistic approach to process improvement and process transformation initiatives.”

For them, this revolves around the so called 4 C’s:

  • Customers – so all big data work should revolve around the customer and improving their customer experience.
  • Chaos – the modern world is fuzzy rather than linear, with unstructured data the norm, especially when dealing with that inputted via social media.
  • Context – data is useless without the context to understand what it means for both you and the customer who generated it.
  • Cloud – with an increasing amount of data outside of traditional IT systems, managing this interaction between that which is within your proprietary database and that which is in the cloud will be crucial.

At the heart of it all of course is the customer, and that is a focus that process improvements should never lose sight of.  Where big data will really come of age is when it becomes the tool used by everyone.

Human beings are exceptional at deriving context from a situation whilst making order from chaos.  Problems exist however when so few have any regular contact with the customer.  Making customer experience the preserve of everyone in the organisation and giving them the big data tools to support them in this and you have a potent recipe for success.

Adi Gaskell is Head of Online at the Process Excellence Network


Peter Borner


Peter Borner

Loving husband, proud father, successful business leader and active Rotarian.

I value people with an opinion. I believe in doing it right. I understand the need for teamwork. I try to make great decisions.

It’s all about driving for results.


Twitter: PeterBorner