Twitter dangerous? No, inadequate policy dangerous. | acidlabs Studios
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Twitter dangerous? No, inadequate policy dangerous.

Twitter dangerous? No, inadequate policy dangerous.

I called out Michael Krigsman via Twitter when he posted Twitter is dangerous yesterday. His statements are pandering to the security industry “leaky network” fearmongers and the naysayers who feel threatened by the changes that can be brought about in more open corporate communication.

I am far more inclined to agree with Ed Yourdon’s position.

The introduction of tools that facilitate open communication channels inside the wall, between business elements and more perhaps importantly between business and consumer are a risk, but they are a risk that should be mitigated through the implementation of adequate and appropriate information and systems security policies (I feel qualified to speak on this, at least a little, as I’ve spent some time as a frustrated corporate network policeman working in an organisation who felt the need to block pretty much everything at the firewall – it’s not surprising I didn’t last much more than a year in that job).

Taking the approach of blocking and banning does organisations with staff wanting to implement and use social tools no favors at all. What inevitably ends up happening is a variant on Gilmore’s Law and these organisations end up with unauthorised implementations of tools so that staff can do their jobs properly.

Faced with users wanting to implement and use tools like wikis, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Ma.gnolia and del.icio.us or any other “2.0” variant where the communication channel is far more open – whether that tool is implemented fully within or extends through the wall – organisations need to rethink their information and systems security policies. These policies need to be reimagined in a way that allows staff open and easy access to the tools they need to do their jobs properly while also considering the fact that not all corporate data is appropriate to disseminate or store on such platforms.

A well thought out policy will more than adequately address issues of appropriateness, consideration before release, when and when not to use a particular channel and related matters. IBM’s blogging guidelines are a great example of a well-considered policy that deals with these matters appropriately.

So Michael, no, Twitter isn’t dangerous. What’s dangerous are inadequate policies around using these tools.

Stephen Collins
trib@acidlabs.org
No Comments
  • Jasmin Tragas
    Posted at 08:55h, 21 December Reply

    Thanks for posting this Stephen.

    In addition to policy, what about developing a culture of trust and loyalty? What are organisations doing to address real implementation and adherence to business conduct guidelines? Are there guidelines in place as a baseline for social policies.

    The IBM Virtual Community guidelines are another example of a community developed policy 🙂

  • Stephen Collins
    Posted at 09:13h, 21 December Reply

    Jasmin, culture is absolutely critical. Probably more important than policy. I just addressed the policy angle as Michael’s post was largely about that.

    Us “social” types know instinctively that many corporate issues can be addressed by appropriate culture shift. Sometimes we forget to voice it, so your prod is super-helpful.

  • Chris Dawes
    Posted at 09:56h, 21 December Reply

    Unfortunately we are in a transitional period where people waste far too much time using tools that benefit them socially, but don’t benefit the company that they are working for.

    Ever paid someone to do nothing? Companies are doing that every day. It will take five to ten years for these technologies to become part of every day in mainstream business. Until then the balance needs to be reached.

    Wasting time is wasting time. I find most twitters ramble constantly about things off topic and are more a distraction than a tool that can be harnessed. Hopefully in the next few years the next generation apps will find a balance that business can be satisfied with.

    At the moment these tools, such as twitter and facebook, are clearly a waste of time. On the other hand wiki’s and tagging applications can have great benefits right now.

    It’s not about training people (freedom to the people…) to do the right thing. It’s about having the right monitors in place to highlight those who twitter all day when their job is clearly not related to that activity… ie store manager..

  • Stephen Collins
    Posted at 10:09h, 21 December Reply

    Chris, the issue you raise is actually not about tools at all, but about management practice and treating people (and your job) with respect.

    The command and control structure in place in most organisations by its very nature places people in a position where to a large extent they are treated as incompetent or as children needing supervision. Organisations where people are treated as, and expected to behave like adults – output-based rather than presence-based goals, the ability to use non-corporate tools appropriately, an understanding that being away from your desk doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t working – often have high productivity, high morale and low instance of abuse of time, privilege and infrastrucure.

    Twitter and Facebook, to use your examples, can be a source of wasted productivity but aren’t necessarily. There are many organisations using these tools to leverage peer and industry connectivity, communication and collaboration.

    In the end, it comes down to a cultural issue, as Jasmin pointed out. With a culture of trust and loyalty of your staff, the benefits are manifold.

  • NathanaelB
    Posted at 11:01h, 21 December Reply

    Michael says in his article:

    “If confidential information is being shared, even innocently, question the judgment of the sharer.”

    I say: Why are we still so focussed on keeping information confidential? I question the judgment of the organisation that chooses to keep everything locked-down.

    Michael says that information/comments can be:

    “analyzed more rapidly, and in more depth, than you might expect.”

    I say, isn’t that a benefit? I don’t see anything negative about that!

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