Gartner: 60 percent of firms plan increase in staff social media snooping by 2015

Summary:Research firm Gartner says digital surveillance in the workplace on the rise, with around 60 percent of companies aiming to increase a formal presence on social network to monitor their staff.

Employees are increasingly under the watchful eyes of their managers in and out of the workplace in a bid to curb breaches in corporate security.

Research firm Gartner said by 2015, around 60 percent of corporations will have programs in place to monitor social media accounts --- including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn --- for security breaches and data leaks.

Traditionally, companies have taken the 'internal' approach to monitor activities within the corporate domain. Gartner suggests looking at both inside and outside the enterprise zone would lead to a more effective solution.

"The development of effective security intelligence and control depends on the ability to capture and analyze user actions that take place inside and outside of the enterprise IT environment,” said Andrew Walls, research vice president of Gartner.

Employee accounts should be non-intrusively monitored to discover data breaches as soon as possible, the research suggests, but also to prevent corporate equipment or offices from being abused or misused.

Yet there are times when a company can push things too far.

If a manager views a public and open Facebook profile to determine the sexuality or marital status of an employee that would violate employment privacy and equal opportunity laws.

And then there's the accidental factor.

Considering companies now more than ever are expanding to the social media world to expand their customer relationships and increase their spread across the new customer-facing platforms. It's not limited to staff engaging with customers and responding to queries over Twitter.

Many companies allow their employees to blog and tweet under their own names --- at least with disclosures to disassociate personal tweets away from the corporate image --- knowing their internal secrets are only a 'publish' button away. A lot of trust is held in the hands of modern members of staff.

The research went on to stress that monitoring could however lead to legal troubles.

The conflicts involved were highlighted through recent examples of a small number of organisations requesting Facebook login information from job candidates,” Walls said.

"While automated, covert monitoring of computer use by staff suspected of serious policy violations can produce hard evidence of inappropriate or illegal behaviors, and guide management response, it might also violate privacy laws."

Image credit: Flickr, CC.

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Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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