March 23, 2011
Social Networking Websites Social networking websites are a great tool for people use to stay in touch with people that they might not see or talk to on a regular basis. Family members and friends that live in different parts of the world can share pictures and talk to one another for free. Social networking websites are a great tool for the social aspect of people’s lives, but in the business world these websites are a risk. In the following, I will discuss some of the risks and how internal auditors can help mitigate the risks. The first risk is the risk of allowing employees access to social networking websites from the company’s computers. Many social networking websites are the host for many viruses and spyware. Many hackers have used social networking websites to hack into people’s personal information. This becomes a risk for companies because office computers also have confidential information. Many companies have blocked employee access to social networking websites, but internal auditors can help identify if employees have found ways to access the blocked sites. For example, there are third party websites people can access that will then allow them access to the social networking websites. Internal auditors can help management identify if any employees are using such websites and blocking them if need be. The second risk is how each employee uses social networking websites. Every United States citizen is given the right to free speech. Companies cannot forbid their employees from participating in social networking websites, but they should be aware of how each employee is utilizing the websites. If employees are only using the websites to talk to others about their social life and only on the employee’s personal time, then companies do not have much to worry about. However, if an employee uses the website to talk about work, then it poses a risk to the company. If an employee complains about how the business is operating, then many people will hear about a potential flaw within the company. Even if the words are untrue, any negative words said about any company are negative to the overall success of the company. Outside individuals that read negative information about the company will believe the negative words.
Aside from the negative words, another potential risk is if an employee talks about what the company is doing or plans to do. An example could be if management is trying to break away from being a union employer company. Given that unions generally fight for more benefits and higher wages for the employees, unions create higher labor costs. If management is in the process of trying to break away from being a union employer company and someone from within management tells others about it, then it causes a huge risk for management’s success in trying to break away from the union.
In any case, the words and the information an employee gives out on a social networking website is a risk to the company. The question becomes how to mitigate the risk. Internal auditors can help mitigate the risk by accessing each employee’s social networking websites and identifying the employees that may be a potential risk. Management can then decide what actions they will take with regards to the risk. Another way management can mitigate the risk is to set up some sort of filter that will pull written statements about the company. Many large corporations have these filters set up so that if anyone writes something negative on a social networking website, they will know about it and are able to attempt to solve the problem or complaint. A third potential risk is employees utilizing social networking websites in order to find a new job or promote their job. An example of a social networking website used primarily for business activities is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking website devoted to the business aspect of people’s lives and is utilized by individuals and businesses.