Social Media Opportunities and Risks in the Workplace

A White Paper and webinar from ZyLAB draw attention to the marketing and network advantages, and to the corresponding discovery/disclosure risks, which come with the massive growth in social media use.

I am fairly sparing with both adjectives and adverbs in my writing, probably in reaction against marketing material which contains little else.Things positive and negative, and as varied as the sophistication of some technology, the beauty of a view, the conduct of most politicians, and the stupidity of bureaucracy and of so many of the people who impose and enforce it, can all bring out my inner Roget. For the most part, however, I am content to leave the colourful words to marketeers, tabloid journalists and Americans (though I was quite proud of the recent suggestion that I specialised in “understated hyperbole”). The growth in data volumes, and particularly that of social media, entirely warrants words like “massive” which appears in my opening paragraph.

I have a double interest in social media. Nearly all my business capital lies in my blog, and Twitter is both a marketing tool and a way of keeping in touch with developments and with people around the world. Wearing my eDiscovery hat, I am more than a little interested in the implications for companies of the volumes of data pushed out by a company, by its employees and by those who have dealings, positive and otherwise, with it from the outside.

My recent roundup Some Recent Articles on Social Media Use in Companies included reference to a paper by Johannes Scholtes of ZyLAB called Social Media: the Next eDiscovery Elephant in the Corner. ZyLAB have followed that with a further paper called Compliance in the Cloud: How to Deal with Social Media in the Workplace by Annelore van der Lint of ZyLAB.

That is accompanied by a webinar  on 27 October  to be given by Hanns Köhler-Krüner from HKK Consulting, expert on Social Business and ECM Media, and Johannes Scholtes, Chief Strategy Officer of ZyLAB and professor in text mining. The registration details are here. The registration page includes an opportunity for you to describe some of your own experiences of dealing with social media.

The paper opens with some statistics which are simultaneously impressive and alarming about Twitter volumes, active Facebook users, time spent online and other measures of the pervasiveness of the various media forms. That is followed by a summary of both the opportunities and the risks which accompany this rapid expansion, and some suggestions for controlling its adverse effects.

EDiscovery/eDisclosure is relevant partly because of the formal obligations to give disclosure of anything which is caught by the local definition of discoverable data, and partly because real gems of valuable evidence not only might turn up but actually do. The paper gives examples from litigation of all kinds – commercial, matrimonial, personal injury, employment and the rest.

The paper does not stop at merely identifying the fact that problems exist but gives examples of ZyLAB’s own tools for preserving tweets and Facebook information (where it can be accessed) and for refining and visualising the results. Given the high-volume / low-content nature of most of this information, the ability to show results in pictures – a “star tree” by topic, type, tweeter or username, and a “heat map” to point up themes in tweets – seem sensible approaches for those trying to deal with this type of data.

I have not seen these functions in operation, but will do so as soon as possible, and report back on this and on one or two other applications which are out there or which are in various stages of development. This Symantec article from July, for example, reports on a survey about social media “incidents” in connection with the new social media capabilities in Enterprise Vault 10.

Most of these applications must be variants on the sophisticated tools available to marketing companies – I do not think it a coincidence that my tweet earlier this week about a broken domestic iron should bring me, almost immediately, a new follower whose business is selling electrical goods. Nor is this kind of functionality limited to marketing and retrospective eDiscovery – what is referred to in the ZyLAB paper as the ability to “stake out the most sensitive ‘hot zones'” sounds like a useful tool for capturing improper conduct at source which will surely come to be a recognised component of the “adequate procedures” which are the defence to the corporate offence of not preventing bribery in S7 of the UK Bribery Act.

It may be a coincidence that ZyLAB has just won a large new client in the US financial sector – the press release is here. If major corporate accounts are not already including social media capture and analysis in their specifications, then it cannot be long before they do so.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Litigation Support, Social Media, Symantec, ZyLAB. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s