Technology is in a state of constant change. The world of communication has changed, with the rise of social media which changed the way individuals and companies communicate. In 2010, social media has spread further in the workplace, taking collaboration to a new level. The term “Social Media” was first coined in 2007 by Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison‘s paper, Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, published in December 2006. Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content (UGC) (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010, p.61). In other words, social media is the media of online communication and interaction and content is generated and exchanged by online users.
A video clip explains “what social media is”
Characteristics of Social Media
Social media is a new way of connecting and interacting with people in various media forms, including videos, images and texts. It allows everyone to be a content co-producer and to publish or access information anywhere around the world. There are five main characteristics of Social Media.
- Participation – to encourage contributions and feedback on the online platforms such as social networks, wikis and blogs.
- Openness – to provide free services and encourage people to provide comments and share information.
- Conversation – an interactive communication or a two-way conversation.
- Community – to allow people to form communities to share their common interests.
- Connectedness – to use hypertext links to connect resources and people together.
Types of Social Media
In 2010, Kaplan and Haenlein defined six different social media types in their Business Horizons article called Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media.
- Collaborative Projects – to allow people to be the content co-producer, to add content or edit the information. The best collaborative project is Wikipedia
- Blogs – to able people to leave comments and share information through blogging services like WordPress, Blogger and TypePad.
- Microblogs – to allow people to send and receive short instant messages (less than 140 characters) via mobile phones. Twitter is one of examples that is using micro-blogging as a service platform.
- Content Communities – to share particular kinds of content. The most popular content communities are Flickr (images/photos), del.icio.us (bookmarked links) and YouTube (videos).
- Social Networks – to allow people to build their online personal profile and connect with their friends to form their own social network. As well, to share content with others and to allow them to communicate more interactively. The typical examples of social networks are Facebook and MySpace.
- Virtual Game Worlds – are virtual game communities and accessible on the Internet. They are enable their users to interact with one another through avatars. The best-known Virtual Game Worlds is Second Life (SL).
Internet Usage Statistics
The Internet has become the fastest growing medium in the world. According to website, Internet World Stats, there is an increase of 444.8% of Internet users worldwide over the last ten years. In 2000, there were only 361 Million (360,985,492 to be exact) Internet users worldwide, but the latest figure shows that the Internet users are just reaching under 2 Billion (1,966,514,816 to be exact on June 31, 2010).
Social Media Statistics
In 2010, social media is the number one activity on the Web and also is becoming a major platform for online interactive communication. There are some facts and figures on the most popular social media websites.
- Wikipedia – over 16 million articles and over 3.3 million in English (Wikipedia, 2010).
- Blogs – more than 110 million blogs being tracked by Technorati, a specialist blog search engine, up from 63 million at the beginning of the year (Mayfield, 2008).
- Twitter – 75 million Twitters users (Mark Evans, 2010).
- YouTube – 100 Million visitors per month and 5 Billion video streams every month (Clean Cut Media, 2009).
- Facebook – over 500 million active users and 50% of its active users log on to Facebook in any given day. As well, each user spends over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook (Facebook, 2010).
Social Media Risks in Organization
According to the research, nearly 50% of end-users ignore company policy on social media access and 27 % said they knowingly alter settings on their corporate devices to access restricted applications (Visage Mobile, 2010). That means, a company internal system is not secure and any private company information can be easily published by workers (staff) through many third-party applications (such as Facebook and Twitter) by a wall post or a status update.
There is a list of various legal risks of social media for companies.
- Loss of confidential information
- Trademark infringement and loss of brand reputation (reputation risk)
- Copyright infringement
- Misleading and deceptive conduct
- Passing off
- Organisational reputation risk
- Breach of continuous disclosure obligations for public companies
- Vicarious liability
- Negligent misstatement
- Occupation and industry specific risks as they are embodied in organisational specific legislation and practice.
For more information on Social Media Law go to the Rostron Carlyle’s website.
How to avoid Social Legal Risks in Organization
Today, there are a lot of companies which have decided to adopte the concept of Enterprise 2.0 and incorporate social media technologies and techniques in their business. However, there are some social legal concerns that should be considered more carefully. A Social Media Policy (SMP) should also be considered. Each company should develop its own SMP. Currently, more than 80% of companies have implemented social media to provide better interactive, collaborative communication for their customers, employees and business partners in America. But only 33% of large companies (like IBM and Intel) have a SMP.
In conclusion, individuals and companies all need to understand any social legal risks within the social media, especially in relation to personal information.
Kaplan, Andreas M. and Haenlein Michael. 2010. Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media, Business Horizons, Vol. 53, Issue 1, p. 59-68.
Visage Mobile. 2010. Mobility Management News and Blogs. Learn what we’re thinking about mobility management and where we think it’s going.
Wikipedia. 2010. Wikipedia.
J. Moriber. 2010. Social Media: Risk or Reward?.
Statistics Facebook. 2010. Facebook.
A. Mayfield. 2010. 75M Twitter Users But Growth Slowing.
Clean Cut Media. 2009. Youtube Statistics – The Ultimate Time Suck.