Point of view: Your right to a life online

Molly Flatt

I don't need to tell you the horror stories. The Primark employees ranting about ‘pikey’ punters on Facebook; the Red Cross worker who accidentally shared her boozy evening on the company Twitter stream; the resignation of New York congressman Anthony Weiner over a lewd tweeted photo. The business press will pick up on any tale of professional mess-making on social platforms with predictable glee. ‘The moral of the story, kids, is... people are dumb. People are dangerous. Give your staff a sliver of social rope, and they'll hang themselves. Until next time!’

This fear-mongering prevents many businesses from even getting off the social starting blocks. When I talk to management about becoming social, however much we might discuss organisational models, internal comms platforms or cultural shifts, the conversation returns again and again to one theme: how do we stop our employees screwing up? This is matched by an equal fear on the part of the staff. What am I liable for when posting online? When exactly do I ‘represent’ my company in social media? Am I ever free to be my boozing, whoring self?