Will implementing Enterprise Social Networks face the same Facebook privacy issues ?

The Facebook privacy issue, both in terms of it’s overall policy and security, raises an interesting question: Will an organisation implementing an Enterprise Social Network face the same woes ?

There are companies that apply intrusive means for mining data from email conversation to unearth the hidden networks and communities internally, I’ve noted this already in a previous post (Time to throw away your hierarchical business model) but with social software in a business context would a worker be asked to join or would there be no choice in the matter ? Would it therefore be possible to eavesdrop on private conversations or even expose a flaw which would allow others to view them happen in the same way as with Facebook, or open to abuse by those with administrative roles much in the same way internal email has been ?

A users privacy is their right to exercise and whether there are options to tailor what others can see about you or not, they have to be fully explored in the enterprise context before going all in. Given that its primary purpose is to open up collaborative channels internally and allow community driven innovation I would expect a company to ask its workforce whether they feel comfortable actively taking part or whether it would be a passive and ad-hoc endeavour (in which case there’s not really much point in the exercise). I see Compliance, Legal and HR all being involved, possibly more so than IT, to create a sustainable and active framework for it’s use.

And it doesn’t stop here: if you extend the model further to include how companies will interact with their customer and supply chain, if you can imagine an enterprise extending their own internal social network to include those on the outside so there’s even greater collaborative scope, how will they tackle the very same issue ?

While the rush to catch the social media bus might have started in earnest across the enterprise space, it’s not all as black and white as you might think….

Of course, Zuckerberg’s latest revelation won’t help matters either

Business Insider has obtained what reporter Nicholas Carlson says is an IM exchange between Zuckerberg and a friend, saved back when the 19-year-old Zuckerberg was building what was then called TheFacebook.com in his Harvard dorm room.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb f*cks.

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