Big Brother employers are about to get even bigger. Gartner says that by 2015, 60 percent of all companies will monitor employee social media use. That's substantially up from the less than 10 percent of companies currently monitoring employees' use of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social media sites for security breaches. Although Gartner says security breaches are the primary reason employers are cracking down, many companies are also monitoring social media for brand management and marketing purposes.
Facing Security Threats with Facebook
Security organizations are finding value in capturing and analyzing social media content for internal security surveillance of employees, as well as external threats like physical threats to facilities and personnel by culling through postings or threats by hacktivists. "The growth in monitoring employee behavior in digital environments is increasingly enabled by new technology and services," said Andrew Walls, research vice president of Gartner, in a statement. "Surveillance of individuals, however, can both mitigate and create risk, which must be managed carefully to comply with ethical and legal standards."
You Want My Facebook Password?!?
One ethical and legal issue that has proved controversial is employers demanding Facebook passwords from job candidates
. While Gartner believes this practice will gradually fade, it says employers will continue to delve into "social media conversations held by employees, customers and the general public when the topics are of interest to the corporation." This certainly points out how employees need to be especially careful about "inappropriate" postings on Facebook and other social media sites that may trigger red flags. "Employees should be aware that their activities may be monitored by their employers, although the precise legal parameters for doing so will need to be developed," says Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, in ComputerWorld. Yet John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director, criticized the practice as "corporate spying" in the name of security. "Actually much of what is discussed [in the Gartner report] is unwarranted snooping in people's personal lives," he says in ComputerWorld. "There is no valid reason for it and companies that engage in such activities should be called out for their unethical activity."
Related Links: Gartner Says Monitoring Employee Behavior in Digital Environments is Rising
[Gartner] Gartner sees huge rise in corporate social media monitoring