Legal, Policies, and Ethics

Social Media.

At first glance it appears completely harmless, and is even a great way to connect with friends. What many don’t remember is once you release pictures, videos, or even tweets out to the social media world, you can never fully take them back. Sure things can be taken down, erased, and forgotten about. Seems like an easy fix.

However, viruses will happen, people will save things to their computers, and things will eventually creep back into the universe, especially when it comes to future employers. Security settings are customizable, but users shouldn’t be solely dependent on social mediums for protection.

CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of hiring managers use social networking sites to research job applicants, with over 65 percent of that group using Facebook as their primary resource.

According to the Huffington Post, “In Bozeman, Mont., hiring managers asked job seekers to divulge the usernames and passwords to ‘any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.’ on their application forms, CNET reported. Shortly thereafter, Facebook even issued a statement saying they objected to the practice not only on ethical grounds, but on legal grounds as well.”

According to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm with a large labor and employment practices, “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees’ in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.”

The New York Times released a story about an employee who was fired due to the criticism she posted about her supervisor on her Facebook page. 

Many employers feel that they are entitled to unlimited access to any form of social media, especially when it is related to their employees or company. The labor board responded to this issue with a statement issued by Lafe Solomon, the labor board’s acting general said, “This is a fairly straightforward case under the National Labor Relations Act — whether it takes place on Facebook or at the water cooler, it was employees talking jointly about working conditions, in this case about their supervisor, and they have a right to do that.”




Managing Social Media

There are so many forms of social media that monitoring all of them can become a hassle.

Social Media wheel with spokes  and icons

Aggregators can be anythings from a plug-in to an app, numerous versions have emerged in the past few years. By simple definition, an aggregator is “to provide you with one simple point of entry where you can keep track of the streams from any and all of the most popular social networking sites.” -PC World

The top rated on PC world contain both websites, apps and web-browsers.

  • Streamy  is a website that keeps all of your social mediums and services in different tabs, making it easy to differentiate between the traffic on each of them.
  • Flock is a web browser that makes it possible to post to various social mediums via a sidebar that is constantly visible.
  • FriendFeed, a website that makes it easier for your friends to track all of your social media activity in one place.

Another form of an aggregator is the newly emerging “if this, then that”, or ifft. Ifft is an application that allows you to customize the notifications you receive, for example, if someone tags you in a photo on facebook, then send you a text. Ifttt syncs with s a wide variety of websites and services, including email, SMS texting, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Google Calendar, LinkedIn, Instapaper, Flickr, Foursquare, Vimeo, and Weather.

Social media analytics can be tracked in hundreds of different ways, there are databases, spreadsheets, plug-ins and many other options.

For example, ViralHeat is a social media tracking company that regularly gives away free access to their database of social media analytics. Information on various companies, topics and properties can be analyzed and charted to make background, or market research increasingly easier. has several customizable spreadsheets to choose from. These spreadsheets can be used to track social media platforms, specific topics, or basic traffic flow. They can be found here:



Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Google+. LinkedIn. Instagram. Flickr. YouTube. Foursquare. 

What do all of these websites/apps have in common? They connect people. They are all social media platforms that were created with the purpose of allowing people to share and connect with others. 

If they all have the same underlying purpose, why are there so many different options?

Breaking it down:

Facebook is one of the crown jewels of social media. Many social media outlets converge on facebook. For example, many people are syncing their twitter, instagram, pinterest, and LinkedIn profiles with their facebook account. Why? Convenience mostly. It’s a way to keep all followers/friends/acquaintances simultaneously informed. 

Social media is the main news source for over 1/3 of adults under the age of 30.  When events such as the Colorado shooting, or Coach Anderson leaving Utah State occur, its a way for an ongoing conversation to unfold as information is released. 

Social media has also changed permanently changed politics. According to The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management/ORI survey, “nearly two-thirds of voters reported that political information on social media was either higher quality or on par with traditional media outlets.” 

This info graphic breaks down social media, and the lasting effects it can have:


The fact that 49% of Americans have heard “breaking news” that turned out to be false is horrifying. There are many hackers and others with harmful intent that could damage the reputation of an individual or business. In order to avoid such damaging information, social media outlets must be monitored at all times, especially for celebrities or international businesses. Damage control can be accomplished by responding multiple times through all social media outlets with the same message. Another idea would be to engage in conversation on social media outlets, giving your audience the opportunity to ask questions. 

Social media is not a trend or fad. It is a mainstay in our society, and needs to be recognized as not only a way to socialize, but also as a business asset and news source.