Social networking and information policy

Social networking and information policy

What policy issues have resulted from social networking?


Based on your reading of three (3) of the above readings on issues related to online identity, privacy and/or trust. Think about online identity in relation to both individuals and organisations:

  • what is important in terms of how we present and manage those identities online?
  • what can we share and what should we retain as private to the online world?

Post a 350 word summary of important issues around online identity to your learning journal.

As I read 8 Tools to Track Your Footprints on the Web, I was struck by how easily one’s online identity can be tracked, and how one can get continuous updates on where their name is being used online. These tools can be used by an individual to look at their own online reputation, but I believe it could be used to track other people. Because of this, I feel that it is more important than ever for individuals and organisations to be careful with their online identities.

An “online identity” is more than what you say about yourself on your SNS (Social networking site) profiles. In Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites, the authors discovered that other factors have an impact on how your online identity is judged: The kind of friends you have on your friend list, the pictures that you are tagged in, and even posts written by others on your page.

I believe that for individuals, this means that they need to take extra care with who they choose to connect with online, as the behaviour of other users can reflect on them. From an organisational point of view, any official SNS profiles would need to be diligently monitored. Additionally, they may not wish to let employees discuss work-related issues online, as the employees online identity is then linked to the organisation.

Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook uses the following example to illustrate how difficult it is to manage one’s reputation online as they would in real life:

Ben (a marketer for an educational firm) told me, on multiple occasions, how frustrated he was with the “context collision” created by Facebook’s flattened Friend hierarchy, where by default, everyone is given access to the same personal information. As a result a user’s teetotaler boss sees the same things as their best friend, the party animal.


Whereas in real life we are able to choose who knows which details about our life, online we are equally exposed to anyone who can access our SNS profile. Individuals need to be careful which details they wish to share about their private lives, and organisations need to share only things that can be known to the general public.



Davis, L. (2009). 8 tools to track your footprints on the Web, February 1. Available

Mallan, K. & Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites, First Monday, 14(6), 1 June. Available

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Available 



Social networking and information policy

Social networking and information policy

Social media/networking policies for organisations


Based on the above advice regarding the development of social media policies in organisations, identify 5 key points which you would use to advise a Social Media Policy Working Party regarding the development of a policy for organisation with regard to either (a) clients or customers’ use of social media while using your computers/network access or your organisation’s social networking sites, or (b) employees use of Web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use while using your organisations’ computers/network and time.

Post a 350 word summary of your advise to your learning journal.



First and foremost, I would recommend that the Social Media Policy Working Party discusses whether they want their policy to be rigid or flexible. In their “Social Media Policies & Museums” blog post, ‘Jenny’ notes that “…by the time a policy or manual was organized, there’s a pretty good chance that the certain components (like a ‘how to guide’) would already be obsolete. In other words, the web changes so much that consistent updating might become a daunting task.” (2009). The working party may wish to consider this, and draft a policy that is adaptable and flexible in it’s use.


When advising the working party on their policy, I would recommend they focus on Fair Use and Copyright concerns. Both library staff and users should be made aware that they are obligated to follow Copyright legislation, particularly when they are using the library’s internet connection, library-related social media accounts, or library computers.


Any policy regarding staff use of social media accounts should demonstrate that the library trusts it‘s staff to make sensible decisions online. Lauby (2009) suggests that social media policies need to “focus on the things that employees can rather than what they can’t do.”


The working party may wish to consider whether their policy extends to the restriction of library staff accounts, and whether any guidelines extend to staff member’s personal social media accounts. For example, will staff need to seek permission before creating a social media account that links them by name to the library or organisation? Given the fact that things posted online can be seen as a representation of the library, will there be restrictions on what staff can say about the workplace when using their personal accounts?


I would suggest that the policy does make clear the importance of maintaining privacy. Information about users, or sensitive information about the organisation, should never be disseminated over social media without permission. Similarly, staff using library-related social media accounts must be careful not to intrude on patron’s virtual ‘space’.