Archive for August, 2010

Re-thinking workers & social media

August 18, 2010

Here is another article about what NOT to do on social networking websites.  I think this is the wrong approach.  Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of social networking, why not turn it into a positive?

Encouraging Employees to Show Initiative

Many employees have aspects of their jobs that they simply don’t have time to explore at work.  Social networking and blogs now allow workers to become or display their expertise in this area through social networking.  Encourage employees to become resources on topics that impact the workplace.  For example, if  someone is concerned about the company’s disaster preparedness, encourage them to start collecting news about the topic, start a blog on the subject, share the information on their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

Instructing Employees in the Proper Use of Social Networking – Win – Win

Not only does this encourage an employee to become an expert on a subject that is useful in the workplace but they will become expert in the use of social networking – understanding the pitfalls and the tremendous upside as well.

Lawyers Upping Use of Social Networking

August 17, 2010

According to the 2010 Legal Technology Survey Report, 56% of lawyers are using social media sites compared to 43% in 2009.  What are they using it for?

  • professional networking (76%)
  • socializing (62%)
  • client development (42%)
  • career development (17%)
  • case investigation (6%)
  • “other” (3%)

Big Brother software: any privacy issues?

August 16, 2010

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal, discusses small businesses purchasing computer surveillance software to monitor workers’ use of technology and the Internet.  Given the statistics about people viewing Facebook at work for recreational reasons, the fact that workers can be doing all kinds of things with their computers, including viewing pornography, moonlighting for another company, cyber stalking and so much more, there certainly is a strong case for monitoring employees use of their company computers, phones and other mobile devices.

What about privacy rights?

Its worth noting that the Supreme Court, in the widely read Quon case where an employee was exposed for using his pager for private texting, didn’t deny that the employee had a reasonable right to privacy over the texts he paid for even if he used the pager provided by his employer (The City of Ontario).  What about an employee being spied on by surveillance software?  Might that person have a reasonable expectation that an employer wouldn’t spy on them without notice?  I think an employer is well-served by putting employees on notice about the possibility of surveillance.

What if Everyone’s Doing It?

What if an employer discovers that the most productive employees are no different than the less productive employees in how much they use social networking?  Should an employer clearly state how its using such surveillance software? That its using the software to detect illegal or unethical use of technology by employees not merely track Facebook use?  Increasingly, employees with laptops and mobile devices use technology around the clock. For employees who are working at night or on the weekend, how should the employer handle their recreational use at those times?  Insist employees use personal machines to check their Facebook profiles?

Workplace Revolution

Technology has created a double-edge sword for workers and management.  On the one hand, employees are given the tools so they can be responsive to work demands late into the evenings and on the weekends.  On the other hand, employees have tools to enjoy social networking and other pleasures of the Internet while working or not.  This suggests that employers need to get back to basics – making sure that employees are properly managed so that its clear whether they are productive or not.  Why subject productive employees to morale-deadening restrictions on their use of the Internet?  If an employee’s performance is slipping, he or she is missing deadlines or doing sloppy work, that is the time to investigate. Even in the Facebook culture, that truth hasn’t changed.

CA Bill: Crime to Open False Facebook profile

August 15, 2010

The actual bill makes it a crime to “credibly impersonate another person on or through an Internet Web site by opening up an email account or a profile on a social networking Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding another person…”  Here is the text.  The bill is now before the governor for his signature.

Definition unclear

“Other electronic means” includes “social networking Internet Website.”  Clearly they are thinking about Facebook, Twitter and the like but “social networking” as a way to define websites is too ambiguous and is likely to get more so.  Why not simply say, opening an account or profile on a public Website?  I think Internet is probably an attempt to define “public” but again is too vague.  Chances are, that people will be able to open account or profiles through apps that aren’t social networking at all and which don’t necessary interact with a website.  The key here to prohibit creation of false identities on the web – regardless of whether they are social networking related or not.

Defrauding is Different than Intimidation

The bill lists the harms it is addressing as “harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding.”  I think the last harm is a different animal than the first three which are aimed to preventing online bullying. Defrauding is more about monetary theft – a way to hoodwink someone into giving money under false pretenses.  Fraud involves a whole different level of evidentiary and intent standard and this law will just confuse the issue.  Better to handle defrauding individuals through identity theft legislation.

Hate networking? – Change approach

August 14, 2010

Many people and, lawyers especially, would rather have a tooth pulled than go to a networking event.  I use to feel that way myself so I speak from experience.  What I disliked was having to sell myself, feeling that the only reason I was at a networking event was to get people to hire me.

Wrong Approach

The fact is I enjoy learning about what people do – which is a lot of what networking is.  Learn what people are up to and what they need – in their business or personal life.  Then instead of looking only for cues that can help me get business, I look for cues to help people find services and products they need.

People I Trust

Then because I’m in a Business Networking International chapter and I have first hand experience of people offering products and services in a wide range of areas, I can listen for ways to match up the person I’m talking to with people in my networking sphere who I know and trust.

Networking Becomes Fun

First, because I have plenty of things to talk about and I can bring together people with needs with people with services and products to offer.

How I benefit

I’ve made a connection with the person I’ve met who now realizes I’m not just selling them on my services but that I’m a a good listener, a trusted resource and someone worth knowing.  The people I’ve referred business to, now have a more powerful reason to learn about my offerings to refer appropriate people they meet, to me.

Friday Freebies: All in one mp3 App!

August 13, 2010

“Zortam Mp3 Media Studio Pro 11 is all-in-one Mp3 applications. It provides Zortam Auto Tagger that gets cover arts, lyrics, albums, genres and other tag information using batch processing from Zortam database, MP3 Organizer, Mp3 Normalizer, ID3 Tag Editor, Mp3 Player, CD Ripper, Wav/Mp3. In addition you can batch rename files using ID3 info, synchronize ID3 tags, looks for duplicate Mp3 files and much more.”


Facebook postings can be discoverable

August 12, 2010

We know attorneys are already combing social networking sites for evidence in divorce, bankruptcy, personal injury, criminal matters and more.  Now comes this federal court decision that outlines how much of a person’s Facebook profile is discoverable whether they have made that information public or not.

Sexual harassment suit

Plaintiffs are suing a company called Simply Storage for sexual harassment and the EEOC, took up their case.  During discovery Simply Storage requested all information from the plaintiffs’ Facebook and MySpace profiles including photos, videos and textual messages etc.  The EEOC objected and ultimately the court had to decide.

Party entitled to limited amount of Facebook data

The court rules that Simply Storage was entitled to discovery of social networking data limited to “mental state” in regards to the plaintiffs’ claim of emotion distress.

Privacy settings not enough

The Court’s limitation on what is discoverable on a social networking website seems laughably porous.  I can imagine every plaintiff’s attorney in any case where emotional distress is involved looking for “mental state” evidence on Facebook and the like.  So don’t feel secure because you’ve locked down your profile to just friends.  Once you are involved in a lawsuit, the Pandora’s box of your Facebook profile will no longer be just the source of hilarity for you and your friends.

Feds using social media for security clearances

August 11, 2010

This article based on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Freedom of Information Acts has uncovered several covert uses of social networking by the federal goverment.

The Office of Director of National Intelligence released a study showing internet searches conducted for purposes of uncovering “noteworthy” information on potential security clearance candidates.  These searches looked at whether candidates had posted too much information about themselves or their work or had shared photos portraying illegal drug use on social networking sites.  EFF promises more information on the government’s use of social networking in coming days.

Few U.S. Companies have social media policies

August 10, 2010

According to a 2010 Manpower report, less than 30% of companies have social networking policies. This was cited in this article about social networking policies for companies which has some good advice including to update the policies on an “as needed” basis as well as training employees on the policies.

Social networking training

Beyond training on the policy, I would encourage companies to provide hands-on training to employees on the professional use of social networking not just a dry lecture on the policies.

One size doesn’t fit all

Companies should also consider adopting policies based on user groups.  Sales professionals will have a different need for social networking than will manufacturing or finance personnel and it makes sense to have a stricter policy for people who shouldn’t be interacting with clients than from those who should be.

Facebook for Attorneys – Use with Caution

August 9, 2010

Should lawyers and law firms have a presence on Facebook?  If I swapped out Facebook with LinkedIn, I would eagerly answer, “yes!”  However, I think Facebook is less obvious.  Here’s why:

It’s consumer driven: Facebook is primarily for consumers to interact with other consumers or businesses with a consumer focus.  If your legal practice also focuses on consumers, then this might be an appropriate venue.  If your practice focuses on start-up or other innovative companies, having a Facebook page is probably important to your audience even if your practice is business to business.

Requires work: Linkedin is focused on professionals and the company pages don’t allow for much customization.  However, Facebook has lots of add-ons and is a much more dynamic site.  You competing against business that have very active pages and if you don’t, that could look worse than having no page at all.  An example of a good Facebook page is here.  Stem Legal has added custom pages and included effective integration with LinkedIn and JD Supra.

Ubiquitous: Facebook is becoming the Yellow Pages of the new millennium. Before long, all law firms will want to include a listing. Those that get significant traffic from Facebook will spend resources like personal injury attorneys in the Yellow Pages that take out full-page ads.  Others that don’t use Facebook for business may still want a listing just to be found there.