I’m admittedly not an “early adopter,” and I’m typically not the latest to jump on a new technology trend (and yes I still have problems organising my DVD recorder), but heading up FaceTime’s EMEA marketing group has meant I’ve needed to get with the program. Along the way, I’ve made my share of social networking faux pas, so I came with a plan to see how many more luddites there were trying to make their way in the social networking world… and how many had made the same mistakes as me.
So, with this in mind, we launched a (completely anonymous) survey and I sent out invitations via good ole email, and even via my Facebook and LinkedIn buddies … oh boy. I have to say it was interesting reading (and I almost wish it hadn’t been anonymous now!).
We immediately received stories from users who showed an almost Olympian prowess at doing the wrong thing. Computer Weekly reported on some of the results of the survey.
Here’s a recap: More than a third of the 77% of respondents that can access IM services at work admitted to sending an instant message to the wrong person, occasionally to the very person they were talking about and frequently to their superiors. Sending kisses, checking on the whereabouts of loved ones and derogatory comments about co-workers and superiors have all ended up in a manager’s chat window. One respondent even confessed to sending a joke of an explicit sexual nature accidentally to the Financial Director.
A lack of forward thinking (I put myself at the head of the list!) when posting new and updates generally was evident in faux-pas anecdotes given during the course of the survey.
One respondent posted to Twitter “Woohoo! I’ve finished for the day” at 4pm rather than his finish time of 5:30 pm, only to receive a call from a colleague asking how he was enjoying the sunshine. Another stated that he was an eager job seeker to his current, and rather surprised, employer.
Just 5% of respondents had sent confidential information to the wrong person. However, one such error resulted in the company’s telephony and internet access being used by someone else at the organisation’s expense.
Nearly 16% of respondents said that they had clicked on an attachment or a link within an IM that had turned out to be malware. 42% of those said their anti-virus protection did not catch it.
Nearly three quarters of people surveyed could access social networking sites at work, but only two thirds said that their employer’s policy allowed them, showing that adequate policy enforcement tools were not in place. The most popular sites by far that people used were LinkedIn and Facebook, with 33.1% of respondents saying they had the most friends on LinkedIn, compared with 32% that said real life friends topped their list.
The bottom line is, people are engaging in communications via IM and social networking at work. Enabling IM and Web 2.0 communications can bring great benefits to companies, but IT departments need to consider the risks involved and make sure that security, policy control and compliance are introduced as standard best practice.
Perhaps the best advice for users is summed up by one of the survey respondents who said “I always check twice, to see if I’ve been naughty or nice.”