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Spying On People’s Social Activity?

First there came the craze for corporations to have social media policies so they could create internal rules about employee use of social media. Now corporations can spy on what employees are doing and saying on the web.

A new piece of software released by Teneros called Social Sentry allows employers to keep an even closer eye on how much time their workers spend on Facebook and Twitter and what they are publishing on the web.

Social Sentry will notify an employer whenever a worker publicly posts something to Facebook or Twitter. The software will also monitor YouTube, MySpace and LinkedIn. Not only will it help an employer know what’s being posted, but it’ll also provide data about just how much time employees are spending on social networking sites.

“The exponential growth of all things social  is posing new threats to businesses every day. The threats are relevant to concerns for protecting the corporate brand, sensitive corporate information and customer information along with a host of other associated risk. The issue is how to best manage these risk.

Social Risk Management?

Risk management is designed to identify and manage relevant risk on an ongoing basis. The practices of risk management include mitigate, transfer, reduce, control or eliminate identified risk most to least. Social media presents new risk for corporations and managing those risk may require new knowledge and subsequently new practices in order to effectively manage the rick. Spying on employee activity may in fact increase risk by acting in an anti-social way. Said actions can create cultural problems within a company, trust between employers and employees has a direct correlation to productivity. After all, once a post is on Twitter, it could be retweeted hundreds of times within minutes. How would you manage that?

Communications are hard to control. Ask Iran and China. Social Sentry  notifies businesses when employees publicly discuss events that are supposed to be private, such as impending mergers, new product launches, R&D and financial results.

Companies using Social Sentry can get a variety of alerts about employee activity on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, MySpace or YouTube. Alerts can be based on keywords related to products or financial results, or simply to identify foul language.

“Social Sentry provides granular, real-time tracking and can identify and monitor employee public communication happening from any location, within the corporate network or public Internet,” Teneros said in a press release. “In addition, Social Sentry offers the ability to monitor select users or the entire employee base to eliminate corporate exposure related to communication.

Alternative Social Risk Management

People, processes and products create risk. Monitoring people, processes and products helps identify pending risk. But when it comes to monitoring people the aim should be to provide people with relevant knowledge to help them learn how to do something better rather than spying on them to find their defects and then punishing them for defects. People defects represent behavior, decisions and actions that increase risk. People create defects because of a lack of knowledge or because of the wrong motivation. How does it feel when people’s defects are discovered and publicly displayed for ridicule? Do corporations look to hire defective people? No but they do everyday including the hiring of CEO’s.

The best method of reducing defects caused by people is to educate, train and create environments that promote learning from defects. Spying on people’s behavior is akin to saying “we won’t accept anything but perfection but we won’t tell you how we define perfection”. You can’t build trust from spying and unless you work at building trust you are likely to create greater risk from what people will say about you and your company.

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