The legal risks within the organization

29 Aug

When SNS (social media services) such as Facebook, weblog, Linkedin has become the major approach for most organizations to engage their employees and promote the business, various legal risks generated from their own staffs and/or the third parties inevitably threaten a company’s safety. Because of the blurred boundaries between personal life and work life when people use social media tools, it is necessary to establish the SMP (social media policy) to bind on an organization’s staffs. The legal risks generally can be divided into two types: internal and external. As shown in the graphic1.1 below which has discussed in the lecture, we can initiatively acquire the most common legal risks organizations will meet.

Graphic 1.1 The model of legal risks

In order to develop an insight into these risks, the following part of this post will choose IBM as an example.

As I mentioned in my previous post: the pros and cons of enterprise2.0, IBM had a keen awareness of using social media — blog to engage its employees. It developed IBM tools inside the company such as internal wiki and internal blogging platform. And in the spring of 2005, IBM created a set of guidelines for all IBMers who wanted to blog to protect both IBM bloggers and IBM. This guideline served as a kind of SMP can be analyzed based on the risks models graphic1.1.

Summarizing the IBM social computing policy referenced from IBM official website aligning with legal risks:

The legal risks Relevant policy
privacy risks,  reputation risks, Defamation, IBMers are responsible for the content they publish on-lineRead the BCGs (IBM business conduct guidelines) to clear the proprietary information
Confidential information, reputation risks, Identify yourself – name and role relevant to IBM.Use disclaimer when your post relevant to IBM in your personal capacity. 
Confidential information Don’t provide IBM’s or another’s confidential or other proprietary information and never discuss IBM business performance or other sensitive matters publicly.
Privacy risks, Don’t cite without permission
Discrimination Respect your audience without ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity etc. show proper consideration for others’ privacy or topics – such as politics and religion
Copyright and trademark breach Don’t use IBM logos or trademarks unless approved to do so
Misstatement and misleading Be first to correct your own mistakes
Statutory risks Respect copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws

Table1.1 legal risks and IBM policies

According to the table1.1, it is obviously that the IBM’s social media policy has basically covered the common legal risks. ‘IBM blog’ is the main social media strategy providing open communication and interaction within the organization. However, it may cause the blurred boundaries between personal life and work life. It is not rare that employees express their own opinion about IBM’s future business plan, strategies or prospects. That’s a fatal harm to any organization. From this view, contents control is the central that its policies concern about.


The risks can be varying according to the occupation and culture of an organization. IBM can be a typical template for most companies which adopt blogging as the main social media strategy, and its policy worth learning.


IBM Social computing policy

How IBM uses Social media to spur Employee innovation 

legal risks of social network for business  


Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Enterprise2.0, Implementation



9 responses to “The legal risks within the organization

  1. angjer

    August 29, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Hi, i think IBM is a great example. I personally feel that having a proper social media policy is of utmost importance so that when incidents happen, they have a doctrine to fallback on as the baseline for what can be done, what cannot be done. Would be good to educate employees through programs or workshops to increase their awareness to the company’s social media policy. Please drop by my blog if possible. Great post!

    • Wu Yunshan

      August 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      I’ve dropped your blog,and i like your post!8)

  2. lesliechongengkit

    August 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    That is a great post you have! It certainly makes me more understand about IBM.

    • Wu Yunshan

      August 31, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      Thank you! And from your post, I also get more about commonwealth 8)

  3. cherizza.almario

    August 30, 2011 at 12:34 am

    IBM definitely has the right idea – guidelines need to be set when dealing with social media

  4. vydam

    August 30, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Hi, great example I didn’t know that IBM had a social media policy, I understand IBM a bit more now in regards to social media within the company. Thanks

    please read my post 🙂

  5. Kim Harrison

    August 31, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Great example using IBM 🙂 It’s definitely interesting to see IBM’s social media policy!

    • Wu Yunshan

      August 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      thank you for your comments!

  6. weidingep2

    September 2, 2011 at 12:25 am

    clear diagram and tables, it is easy to understand importance of
    application of enterprise 2.0. Thanks


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