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A Safety Net for Social Media
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A Safety Net for Social Media

Ways to security in social media

Social media have become an integral part of daily life online. Companies have long since begun to feel the negative impact of this development: the hazards of improper use are increasingly moving into the focus of observation. Businesses must find a way to minimize the risks entailed in the use of social media without missing out on the opportunities they offer.

At first glance, the British Lloyds Bank, the Lower Saxony State Parliament, and the Israeli military would seem to have little in common. But this impression is deceptive: these organizations have all been confronted with the consequences of improper use of social media and the attention given to the events by the media.

One of the bank’s employees complained about the level of her superior’s salary in a public tweet on Twitter and was subsequently fired. A session of the parliament was suspended when one of the representatives tweeted criticism of a speaker at the very moment the colleague was at the podium, creating a tumultuous scene. The Israeli army had to cancel a planned military action for security reasons when one of the participating soldiers posted details on Facebook.

The list of incidents related to social media could go on and on. But why do such mishaps occur? And above all: what steps can companies and organizations take to avoid becoming embroiled in the first place?

Social media have become an integral part in the daily lives of many people

Currently boasting more than 845 million active members, Facebook is one of the world’s most successful social media services. Day after day, more than half of these users log on to update their own “profiles”, to browse through the profiles of other members, and to establish new contacts (“friends”). Naturally, the sharing of private and public messages and other content within these social networks is another major activity. Every day, 250 million photos are posted on Facebook and video material with a playing time of eight years is uploaded to YouTube, corresponding to the length of more than 30,000 films – day after day after day.

These staggering figures clearly illustrate the significance of social media in the everyday lives of many people. It may be true that statistics related to online usage are currently lead by “digital natives”, the generation that has grown up with the Internet. Yet, older age groups are frequently amongst the most rapidly growing segments in social media. According to an American study, the average age on social networks in 2010 had risen to 38, and the trend is continuing upwards (Pew Internet and American Life Project, Social Networking Sites and Our Lives,, last accessed: 15/01/2012). Clearly, the phenomenon of social media is by no means limited to a youthful audience.

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