Leader: When context gets lost in the post

Anybody thinking twice about corporate blogs yet?

Anybody thinking twice about corporate blogs yet?

Yesterday we saw a news story appearing widely across the web, warning about the latest computer virus to circulate.

The warnings appeared to stem from an alert by F-Secure but on closer inspection - by which we mean picking up the phone and talking to F-Secure - it became clear the scare could be traced back to a fairly innocuous post on the company's blog.

But there is a world of difference between issuing an alert about a threat and happening to mention any proof of concept or fairly benign variant which is spotted. F-Secure had done the latter; some press had taken it as the former.

One security expert told silicon.com: "I guess that's what happens when journalists write stories about blog entries." He also suggested the story might be the result of a "slow news week".

But there is a wider problem here which is flagged up by this issue - what happens when you post something fairly innocuous on a corporate blog and it is picked up and presented out of context as a more official statement from your company?

Chinese whispers can be a dangerous thing.

On this occasion F-Secure faced some criticism for scaremongering when really all it did was share some fairly anecdotal virus gossip on a messageboard which is just as likely to include comments about the quality of conference food, according to an exec within the company who was baffled by the news circulating.

The wider question is whether companies now need to be aware that what they say on their blog can easily be taken out of context and misrepresented, and act accordingly.

The other question is whether that in turn will negate the very point of running a blog.

Think about jokes you have in-house, or with your friends. Think about all the things you say which could be taken out of context - and once there are degrees of separation between how they originally surfaced and where they subsequently appear, think about how those remarks might haunt you.

Are you still so excited about the potential of a corporate blog?