The Read Write Enterprise blog recently published an interesting post titled Facebook, Passwords, Employers, and a Business Opportunity. The business opportunity in question is monitoring that allows employers to access non-public Facebook and social media content from employees.
This is obviously a touchy area. Employees don’t want their employer monitoring their personal, online activity and are not likely to turn over passwords and access to their personal accounts for that purpose. But, author Joe Brockmeier says, “Show me a system that can monitor social media traffic with very little human intervention, and no involvement from anyone at the employer unless there’s a possible infraction, and it might be acceptable.”
That sounds like a pretty high hurdle, but it is entirely possible today. Despite public outcry at prospective employers asking job interviewers for their Facebook passwords, the fact is that it is relatively simple for applications to access and archive Facebook and other social media content. For example, Nextpoint’s Cloud Preservation provides the capability to collect private Facebook information. Cloud Preservation uses Facebook’s Graph API (which uses OAuth for authorization) to crawl private Facebook profiles in addition to public pages, including friend lists, wall posts, and just about anything published on a page.
Cloud Preservation provides users with a passive archive that allows them to review social media content if an issue arises. Most importantly, the archive maintains an audit trail on every item, so that any review of someone’s content would be recorded, ensuring the employer can enforce a policy that allows only authorized reviewers can see data.
Brockmeier says he is against employee monitoring employee pages in almost every situation, but notes specific, limited examples where monitoring is acceptable. It’s obviously going to take careful implementation by an employer, but it is a mistake to think that such a social media review policy is not achievable today.