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Travelers Survey Says Social Media Use Could Expose Businesses to Risk

Source: Business Wire

Posted on 31 Aug 2009

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In an attempt to be on the cutting edge of technology by encouraging use of social media at work, businesses can become exposed to risk, according to a survey conducted by Travelers Global Technology, a unit of Travelers.

Travelers Global Technology conducted a national online survey of more than 2,000 adults to explore trends in social media and the potential risks to businesses.

A key finding in the survey shows that one out of eight respondents indicated that they post work-related information on social media Web sites. In fact, 30 percent feel it is acceptable to post information online about their employer as long as they believe it is true. Survey results also showed that more than 75 percent of those who post anything personal online said they were “not at all” or “not very concerned” about information posted online causing professional damage.

“As the use of social media grows at an unprecedented rate, especially among 30 to 49-year-olds, the likelihood of businesses being affected by employee social media use also increases,” said Kathy Swendsen, President of Travelers Global Technology.

“An employee could inadvertently post confidential information that could cause irreparable harm to a business. In addition, the speed and ease of publication to a wide audience makes it virtually impossible to remove the information once it is posted.”

The growth of social media and the lack of awareness among employees and employers on how social media is changing the corporate landscape could increase a company’s risk exposure. “Travelers conducted this survey as part of our continuing commitment to help our customers and agents understand the ever-changing risks that innovation creates.

The Travelers survey results should encourage businesses to understand the extent of coverage that is already in place to address social media risks and exposures, and determine where gaps may exist,” Swendsen said. “Employees’ increased use of social media may amplify a businesses’ exposure to potential liabilities such as harassment, defamation, copyright infringement and privacy violations.”

The Travelers survey results also indicate that two-thirds of respondents say their company does not have a policy in place for social media usage, or they are not aware that one exists. “By implementing policies to address social media usage and making employees aware of those policies, businesses can reduce their exposures to legal liabilities, breaches of proprietary information and damage to a company’s brand and reputation,” Swendsen added.

In order to help reduce potential risks, businesses should consider the following best practices:

· Develop a business-use policy – Develop a policy to govern employee actions on social media tools that a company might deploy within the company’s network, as well as provide guidelines for how employees should conduct themselves on external social media sites whether or not they are representing their affiliation to the company.

· Communicate and train employees – Communicating the social media policy to employees will help them understand what is acceptable when it comes to publishing online. Businesses should provide annual training regarding the proper use of social media tools as well as e-mail, instant messaging, blogging and Internet usage.

· Enforce the policy – A proactive and reactive plan should be in place to address employees who violate the policy.

Survey results are available at