At Ebsco we have placed a great deal of emphasis on social media networks. They can be powerful tools to show customers who you are as a company and to communicate with employees. It is a wonderful tool. As we continue to develop this resource I have marveled at what a powerful tool social media has really become in our society.
On the positive side, I am proud to say I met my wife on a social media dating site. She lived less than a mile from my home, walked in the same park I did daily and we would have never met was it not for social media. It seems today that the on-line dating sites are becoming “the” place for singles to meet and find that special someone. It worked for me!
Just as often as we utilize social media to work for us, it can also work against the individual. Employers, law enforcement, schools and the courts are expanding their use of social media. Individuals own words and photos are utilized against them. Although courts do not force spouses to testify against on another, they will allow the individual to testify against themselves in social media.
Employers are beginning to embrace social media. In a recent poll, 37% of employers admitted reviewing applicants social media sites as one of their pre-screening tools. Imagine how bad that applicant feels after a great interview and then not getting a job offer due to the funny photo they posted on Facebook of them with their trousers down on top of the photo copier at their previous employer. Maybe they never got the call due to the rant they posted on Twitter after they were fired for being late at their last job. I know I’m always amazed at some of the email names applicants actually list on their applications.
In New York City the police department has formed a social media task force. They utilize social media to track wanted individuals, build evidence in cases and to patrol for illegal activities on the networks. They are using people’s own words against them! They have made arrest of individuals bragging about crimes, often standing in front of stolen cars and holding illegal weapons used in crimes. The evidence, in the criminals own words, speaks for itself.
In Italy, law enforcement actually arrested and convicted a hitman based on his postings on Facebook, which identified him with several killings. Again, in his own words.
Civil attorneys are using Facebook, Twitter and other sites. A quick check of social media sites often offers contradicting information, and photos to what is presented in court. In divorce proceedings, several individuals have seen a major turn in their cases due to what they posted in social media sites. Insurance companies utilize social media sites in workers comp and injury cases. When the injured person with a permanent back injury is shown, in their own photos, limbo dancing on the cruise, judges tend to re-evaluate the validity of their case.
People are screaming about government intrusion into their privacy. They talk about “Big Brother” from George Orwell’s 1984. They bring court cases and site the constitution as they rise up against government intrusions. I can’t say I always disagree. We all should have some degree of privacy in our lives, but it is difficult to get too upset at the government when time and again ordinary citizens are too stupid to protect the privacy they have been granted. Do people feel a cloak of invisibility sitting behind their keyboards? Do they feel such a sense of adrenaline and self power when they post these things that they can’t stop themselves? Do they secretly want to get caught? I believe their ultra egos are just so full of themselves they can’t stop themselves from doing it. Never stopping to think who may read it.
I don’t know the answers but if it helps the good guys catch the bad guys, I’m all for it.
For Ebsco, I’m proud of our social media efforts. I enjoy the sites and what they have to offer. As social media continues to develop I foresee it playing a role in Ebsco’s future. Even if that means a few stupid, embarrassing shots of me are part of it.