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Managing the Social-Networking Data Sieve

November 13, 2008

Managing the Social-Networking Data Sieve

Network World, November 5, 2008

Move over desk phones and email…social networking tools are stepping in as the new, innovative way to stay connected. Between websites such as LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter, it’s likely that all of us use one in some shape or form. They provide convenient, quick ways for people to collaborate on projects and stay connected. In a business environment, however, where exactly is the line drawn? When collaborating on social platforms, how do you keep your intellectual property safe?

We found these thoughts from Tom Mighell, a lawyer and senior manager at Fios, an electronic-discovery consulting firm, on how employers can take the reins and manage the world of social networking worthwhile for sharing here.

    1. Accept and train: Social networking is a part of most of our everyday lives, so there’s no use in trying to stop employees from engaging in it while on the clock. Instead, embrace the business opportunities it presents, while teaching them the right and wrong ways of engaging. After all, one misinterpreted sentence about a client could lead to nasty legal trouble down the road.
    2. Influence the socializing: Support the idea of using social networking tools to improve work performance. However, be sure to express this opportunity with caution – you wouldn’t want employees to develop lazy techniques by allowing them to rely on these tools to get their work done.
    3. Consider the complexities: Make it known that your employees’ personal information (such as usernames and passwords) may be asked for if a relevant lawsuit presented itself in the future. If relevant information is requested in a discovery process, any and all communication may be subject to disclosure.
    4. Monitor: Be sure your legal and/or IT departments are reading what your employees are saying through these sites. Develop detailed rulebook and enforce it routinely – the last thing you would want is for a conversation to spin out of control and land your company in court.

Many of Tom’s thoughts reminded us of this article by Surety advisor Timothy Carroll (Carroll is also an attorney in Vedder Price’s records management and e-discovery practice group) – “IMs As ESI: When To Save Instant Messages And How To Properly Authenticate Retained IMs.” Given this quickly evolving space, Tim’s article is well worth the read.

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