Allegedly, more people use Facebook than e-mail, and during the last several months, Twitter became a verb. But for Corporate America, that could cause some problems, according to Houston attorney Chris Schaeper.
"Twenty years ago, you might be having beers with an old frat buddy from college and have a conversation you probably shouldn't have, but who's going to find out?" Schaeper tells Hair Balls. "With Twitter, now there's a track record. It's out there forever."
The problem lies in all those rules and regulations that control what type of information a corporation can release and when it can do so. For example, an employee could Twitter or Facebook details of a merger before the news is public, or mention some minor detail that's technically a violation.
"Most corporate CEO's probably don't have a personal Facebook page, but what about the person in accounting that sees the results of something coming out?" Schaeper says. "It's hard to keep news to yourself."
There hasn't been a documented case of Twitter or Facebook causing corporate trouble, but, Schaeper says, it's coming.
"We're sort of on the front edge of this. Something bad is going to have to happen before companies devote any resources to it," he says, adding that any Twitter or Facebook guidelines shouldn't be radically different from a corporation's current communication policy. But, he says, companies should take a look at those guidelines and ask, "Do these really work for 2009?"
Examples of the Goofus and Gallant of corporate Facebooking:
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Good Facebook status: John Smith is facing the classic vending-machine decision: Cheetos or chips?
(By "good," we're making a judgment as to the legality of it, not the degree to which it rises above the stupendously high bar of Facebook-status literature.)
Bad Facebook status: John Smith wishes he didn't have to put together a Powerpoint for those secret GM/Ford merger talks on the night he has Springsteen tickets!
We're sure Corporate America's cubicle workers, striving for web immortality, will get the hang of it eventually.