Top 5 Legal Issues Concerning Social Media Sites Research Papers Examples

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Internet, Sociology, Company, Workplace, Networking, Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, Media

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/11/20

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The term social networking was introduced first by Bames in 1954 to refer to relationship map between individuals, showing the way in which they are interconnected via several social familiarities such as close familial to casual acquaintance bonds. The sole aim of the social media is simply to hook up people who have similar interests, establishing new contacts, meeting new people, staying on with the relationship, and keeping in touch with contacts on social networks. In professional environment, the middle person establishes many connections. These individuals are common to both involved parties, and facilitate initial contact. This is where social media is so revolutionary. It allows individuals who are like-minded to find each other, across time zones, and beyond physical network.
In both personal and professional life, customarily human beings form groups based on expertise and affinities. We always tend to be drawn towards individuals whom we share similar interests. We are all members of real world networks naturally formed. These networks moved quickly to the online world. Online social networking is created for several reasons and takes several forms. Even though social networks have their differences, the online social networks also do, however, they display generally a variety of the following listed concepts. Profiles: every member in the network has a profile that functions as the identity of an individual in the network. In professional ambience, the profiles consist of information about individuals experience, affiliations, interests and education, as well as individual’s resources and skills. Connections: these online social networks allow the users to make connections with other individuals in the network. Sometimes these connections are implicit and they are derived from actions in the past such as sending emails to the network member. Also sometimes connections are explicit, they are created and set up by the members themselves. Online social networks have great power, they have changed online space from dry marketing messages and static web pages to electrifying, energetic network of individuals connected who share their, expertise, abilities and interests (Ariel et al., 2014).

Types of social networks

There are two types of social networks; the niche network and indifferent social network. Indifferent networks are the ones used frequently. Examples of these networks include orkut, Facebook, MySpace. These networks have no prejudice or bias against its users. When it comes to the type of these networks users, there is no preference. The niche network is a discreet network. The example of this network is Withnin3. This is a community of health researchers and physicians. According to Withnin3, patients can be taken for clinical trial and can also be informed on the latest advancements in medical field. An individual can only register on the website if an existing member invites them. Researchers or physicians in the health sciences or the students trained for advanced degree on health science can register on Withnin3 website. But this feature is not the only one distinguishing it from the discreet networks (Kietzmann & Kristopher, 2011).

Uses of Social Networking Sites

Business uses; the internet is a very good platform for interacting with customers, by knowing your customers better you will be able to offer them better services. Using the internet has a positive impact of physical boundaries elimination. In order to work with people physically separated that are connected via a strong common threat such as regional offices of multinational corporation, or several university colleges, social network is the best extension of a company intranet or a bulletin board, members can use the social networks to replace face to face networking for professional development, to describe business opportunities and efforts or seek opinions or advice by asking questions to the social media community. Promotion of events on Facebok can lead to more extensive and widespread scope that an organization cannot obtain it anywhere else, this is because when a member hosting an event sends a notification to a host member, it is received by all member’s friends.
Building Connections; generally the social networking sites include a directory for the users to find those who share similar backgrounds and interests. Members grow their networks by connecting with other members of the network. Most social networks need mutual consent from both members before they are considered connected. In the individual profiles, the members post information about their activities and interests as well as occupational background, education and affiliations. Social networks allow its members to set privacy levels on their profile according to what they need, for instance, whether to allow any network member to see the content on their profile or limit it to only connected members and can also allow further access control refinement within the connected community. Members always post content which is not original such as videos and photos to their profile pages. Some social networks allow its users to create groups. The created group can be limited to members with a particular affiliation or revolve around a certain topic. Members joining groups are able to interact with other users within the group not necessarily connected.
Companies can also use social media to respond promptly to critics. It is also useful in cases to gather criminal evidence. Employment agencies use professional networking sites to identify potential candidates, for example the Retail companies also use social networks to drive its sales and marketing.

Top 5 legal issues to be considered when implementing an Enterprise Social Network

Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) is the use of social media by organizations externally and internally to connect people who share similar business activities or interests. Internally, the social tools are helpful to employees since they are able to access resources and knowledge they need to effectively work together and solve problems related to the business. Enterprise Social Networking involves in-house intranet software use and the third-party social media platforms such as SocialCast and Yammer to improve collaboration and communication between employees. Externally, the public social media platforms such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook can be very instrumental in helping the organization conduct research in order to improve business operations and processes, and stay close to its customers. Enterprise Social Networking offers a variety of features such as document sharing, real-time chat feeds, collaboration and management, and community networks. Below are the five legal issues that should be considered (Laura et al., 2012).

Access Control

It is very critical to consider who gets access to your Enterprise Social Network. Typically, a third party Enterprise Social Networking is accessed by anybody with a corporate e-mail address. Practically, this will include people who are not employees for example, contractors based on site. Granting such people access to the Enterprise Social Network is not appropriate; it can particularly lead to increased risk that these contractors are considered as employees. Moreover, a company may need to invite third parties, for instance consultants or clients to access some areas of an Enterprise Social Network. Even within the population of employees, there may be Enterprise Social Network sections that should be available only to certain departments or employees within the business, for instance HR or Legal. When deciding who to access your Enterprise Social Networking, appropriate compliance and legal issues should be taken into account in relation to privileged or protection of confidential information, personal data, and intellectual property rights (Susan & Mercedes, 2015).

Social Media Policy

It is also very vital that the policy provide the users with adequate training on ESN use and compliance with the policy. If the policy is restrictive, complicated or too long, it is very likely that people will ignore it; hence one can be in great problem if the policy is subject to legal challenge. In order to make sure that users properly understand the policy, it is perhaps good to create a video or a slide show to accompany the policy. In addition to policy implementation, organizations should monitor the Enterprise Social Networking and put in place measures that are appropriate to deal with policy breach. Light-touch pragmatic approach is also recommended since a lot of unnecessary interference can stifle adoption. Organizations should also ensure such monitoring is in compliance with data protection and applicable employment law.

Intellectual property Rights Ownership

Providing a platform that encourages users to collaborate and generate ideas, services, and products is one of the largest drivers for Enterprise Social Networking implementation. This may also raise questions of who has the right to claim intellectual property rights on created content. In most countries, content generated by employees, the intellectual property rights will vest automatically in the employer. The position is however less clear-cut when a material is created through third-parties or contractors collaboration. Organizations in such circumstances should in advance consider what is likely to be created and probably who should the owner of intellectual property rights of such content. Also in terms of contractors, the relevant consultancy or contractor agreement should make sure that all created materials during agreement course are owned by the company. For the third party users, there should be an up-front agreement of who will own the intellectual property rights in any created content (Susan & Mercedes, 2015).

Intellectual Property Rights Infringement

In addition to creation of Intellectual Property Rights, there is a risk that employees can infringe intellectual property rights through Enterprise Social Networking, for instance, sharing third party materials in breach of the licensing agreement or without consent. Having clear policy in place and training in terms of third-party material use is essential. Since Enterprise Social Networking is an internal network, people may not appreciate the fact that sharing third-party through an Enterprise Social Networking is likely to be published under the applicable intellectual property right laws and therefore may breach license restrictions.

Privacy and Security

An Enterprise Social Networking inevitably involves large amount of data and significant amount of that data can be considered personal data. The organizations should identify the nature of these personal data that can be collected, purpose which these data will be used for, where the data is likely to be used and by who, and also the appropriate security and access that should be put in place for data protection. Organizations should then ensure that they are complying with all the data protection obligations relevant in relation to such processing. Where the organizations and the Enterprise Social Networking operate on international basis, in this case the personal user’s data based within EEA can be accessed by the users outside EEA; the organization should ensure there are proper protections in place to ensure that these kind of trans-border transfers comply with data protection applicable law. As discussed above, several Enterprise Social Networks operate as cloud based solutions, therefore, organizations should ensure that they feel comfortable with potential risks to security and privacy posed by the cloud based solution (Susan & Mercedes, 2015).

Survey findings on Social Media in the workplace

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey findings on the use of social media platforms in the workplace by HR particularly. The survey examined the social media platforms used by organizations to build relationships and reach external audiences. The findings showed that 68 percent of the organizations said they are now engaged in social media activities in order to reach external audiences. 31 percent of the organizations track the use of social media services by employees, and 43 percent block access to the social media platforms on handheld devices or computers owned by the organization. Within the companies that engage currently in social media activities, public relations 38 percent, HR 44 percent, and marketing 67 percent were groups found to be using social media in the workplace to reach external audiences on behalf of their organization.

Necessary steps that should be taken

A good social networking policy must cover the following issues.
Employees should be warned on posting derogatory statements and pictures regarding the company supervisors and employees on blogs and websites.
Employees should not be allowed to share employer’s proprietary and confidential information through the social networking sites.
Employees should be made aware of the risks of describing online any activities that can be considered as accounts of hazing, harassment, or even discrimination. This kind of post can be considered to be a notice to the employer that an activity that is off-limit has taken place.

Supervisors should also be warned on overseeing online their subordinate activities

Employees should be courteous of their employer, other employees, and the clients of their employers when posting content online.
In conclusion, Enterprise Social Networking have been around for many years but now they are becoming very common in the corporate environment as organizations and individuals have become more comfortable using the social media for business purposes. With the rise in mobile and remote working, companies have recognized the importance of a workforce that is more connected. The benefits of an effective Enterprise Social Networking are very clear. They are designed platforms to streamline communication, build relationships, break down silos and reduce hierarchy, instill a sense of community, and promote innovation and collaboration across distant organizations whether through structure, geography, or otherwise. Legal issues posed by Enterprise Social Networking should therefore be addressed by the organization in order to realize the benefits that come with social media.


Kietzmann & Kristopher H. (2011). Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons 54: 241–251
Ariel, Yaron A. & Ruth (2014). Information, Interactivity, and Social Media. Atlantic Journal of Communication 23 (1): 19–30.
Poerio, Mark J. & Laura E. (2012). Social Media in the Workplace: Employer Protections versus Employee Privacy. American Bar Association.
Susan M. & Mercedes S. (2015). Top 5 Legal Issues You Need to Consider When Implementing an Enterprise Social Network. Morrison & Foerster. Attorney Advertising

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