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Data Protection and Social Media

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The world is more connected than ever before with a myriad of tools and online services to distribute a constant, near barrage, of information out into the world.

There are very few companies left that do not leverage the power of social media in some way or another. Some may prefer one platform of choice and post occasional updates, whilst others will utilise a more complex suite of options to communicate on an hourly basis.

The primary focus is on brand awareness. Associating your organisation with key events in the news, or reaching out with targeted content to a particular geo-bound demographic, can nurture significant revenue opportunities, as well as encourage prospective and existing clients to engage directly with you.

Most companies do not have a clear position on how they wish their employees to engage on social media and how to explain what are the best guidelines to follow, when representing the company online.

The key is to apply a good judgement test. In other words identifying the key decision parameters which are necessary to ensure that no employee unintentionally posts information which could be detrimental to the Company, or put a fellow employee or a customer into a difficult position.

From a Data Protection perspective, the core focus is ensuring that no employee causes a data breach, by revealing information, in particular sensitive data, about another person, without prior approval or awareness. Any negative connotations arising from such an event, is likely to reflect badly on the brand.

Developing a clear social media policy, in which there is a key understanding about how social media is being used in the organisation, identifying the risks which may exist around how employees use social media, and putting in place pragmatic, scenario-based, troubleshooting will go a long way in ensuring that appropriate controls are in place to mitigate the possibility of a data breach.

Making sure that staff are clearly aware of what is permissible, and what isn't, will allow you to have confidence that social media is being used as an advantage, rather than a curse.