Vaunted Risks of Social Networking Must be Put in Context - Quinley On Claims News Insurance Claims Adjuster Property and Casualty Insurance Claims Adjuster,insurance newsletters,independent adjuster newsletters,claims adjuster newsletters,insurance adjuster newsletters,quinley, kevin quinley, ahmed, visibillity,Bernazzani, Newsletters, Claims-Portal.com

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Vaunted Risks of Social Networking Must be Put in Context
By Kevin Quinley CPCU © 2009

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Those resisting the use of social networking for business purposes are quick to seize on disaster scenarios or trivialize social networking as something largely used by teenagers wanting to track Britney Spears’ activities. Due to the perceived perils of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, management teams have blocked corporate access to these sites and are wary of using them for any legitimate business purpose.

The problems of mistakes, liabilities and embarrassments are not confined to social networking, however. Let's look at the following examples :

Hand-delivered letters. A Confederate soldier accidentally drops Robert E. Lee's battle plans, wrapped around cigars, in a Maryland field. Union soldiers accidentally discover these plans just in time for the battle of Antietam, which the Union wins. (1862)

Internet bulletin boards. The Treasury Department, in trying to collect-- and thereby prevent-- computer viruses, instead makes viruses accessible to the public on its Automated Information System Bulletin Board. (1993)

Land-lines. An IRS worker makes a typo when releasing phone numbers for a free Helpline. Confused callers to the IRS hear, “Hi Sexy!”and are encouraged to express their “phone fantasies” for up to $3.99/minute. (1995)

Package delivery. The Pentagon confesses to accidentally sending four fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles to Taiwan. (2008).

Online file-sharing. Plans of Marine One, the presidential helicopter, are accidentally made available to the public when, it was speculated, a defense contractor downloaded a file-sharing service to share music. (2009)

Websites. Maps showing the locations of enriched uranium stockpiles for nuclear weapons go public when the Government Printing Office accidentally posts them on its web site. (2009)

FAX. Dozens of medical providers in Tennessee send confidential patient records to an Indiana business after being given the wrong fax number by the Tennessee Department of human Services.

Note that we need not cite here the proverbial “smoking guns,” inanities or blunders made by e-mail, cell phones or just regular old telephones. Yet, nobody with a straight face suggests that we ban use of these tools which have become staples of the business environment.

The point is that the vaunted perils and risks of social networking are unique to social networking. The problem isn't social networking. The problem lies in using social networking in dumb ways.

In a sense, the debate over business use of social networking tools evokes an odd sense of déjà vu. It is reminiscent of the “debate” often heard twelve years ago when tussling with corporate IT departments over whether or not to allow external e-mail beyond the office or create a corporate web site.

The perils of social networking are not to be underestimated or flicked away. Still, they may represent no compelling reason for companies to delay or defer harnessing the power of social networking for legitimate business purposes.

Is social networking totally risk-free? Absolutely not.

Are FAX machines totally risk free? Are cell-phones totally risk-free? Are computers, PDA’s and smart phones totally risk free? At the close of a business dinner, is it "risk free" to hand your American Express card to a waiter at a restaurant?
Rhetorical questions, admittedly.

The point is: Don't assess social networking by impossibly rigorous standards that would flunk other tools and forms of communication and transactions that we use every day.

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