Archive for Social Networking

Social media policy for grown ups

When drafting a social media policy, how do you give your smart, passionate and opinionated team the freedom to manage their own affairs on social media sites, while also ensuring you’ve signalled your expectations about behaviour to them, so they (and the organisation) can be clear on what’s ok and what’s not ok? It may sound wanky, but the fact is if something goes wrong, you don’t want to be in the position where policy vagueness leave your company or your employee vulnerable to censure either internally or externally.

Here’s the draft social media policy I’m working on at the moment. It’s part of a larger communications policy. I’d welcome your thoughts on whether this frames the organisation and its team’s rights and responsibilities clearly enough.

The use of social media by [organisation] and its projects is supported by [organisation], and any official [organisation] or project presence on social media is subject to this communications policy.

Personal social media accounts of our staff are not bound by this policy. We respect the privacy and maturity of our staff, and trust they’ll reciprocate by ensuring that if they talk about [organisation] and its projects in any public forum (including social media) they’ll do so in a professional manner.

Comments or examples of ways to do this better would be welcome!

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Why Google should allow anonymous/pseudonymous names on Google+

Here’s some feedback I just submitted to Google about its seeming decision to enforce a “real name” policy on Google+.

Hi there,via a couple of friends of mine who are using Google+, I understand that Google is starting to enforce a “real name” policy for Google+. I’m really disappointed if this is the case.

Many people online choose to use pseudonyms to keep their professional life separate from their personal life or hobbies. Or they are trying to protect themselves from abuse. As a woman who’s written about feminism online and received anonymous hatemail and death threats for doing so, I would like to preserve my right to post under a pseudonym to keep myself safe in the real world and if I choose, so I’m not identified as a woman online in places where it might not be safe to do so. I don’t believe that getting rid of anonymity online will stop bad behaviour like the abuse and death threats I’ve received. I do think that getting rid of anonymity and pseudonymity online will make it easier for people like myself to become targets of abuse and potentially put us in danger.

Quoting from the Geek Feminism blog post on Pseudonymity:

“Persistent pseudonyms (those used over many years and perhaps across multiple sites) can accrue social capital and respect just as “real” names can, and be subject to the same social pressures towards civil behaviour if the community has a strong culture of respect. Without a culture of respect, real names won’t help. With it, real names won’t matter.”

Thank you for listening to my feedback, I hope you will change your policy and allow anonymous and pseudonymous accounts on Google+ (which. by the way, I’m loving so far). Cheers!Sarah Stokely (my real name!)

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More social networking cuts – this time LiveJournal cuts half its US workforce

Sup, the Russian owners of blogging/social networking site LiveJournal, has slashed just under half of LiveJournal’s US workforce – getting rid of its products managers and engineers, and leaving just operations and finance people. Sounds rather like they don’t intend to do much in the way of maintenance or development now, doesn’t it? Valleywag has the story and describes LJ as being “left on life support”

Note that LJ users – which includes paid customers of the site – didn’t hear this news from LJ, but from the media. Pretty poor, especially for any paid customers of the site who just coughed up $US175 for lifetime, permament accounts as per the company’s offer in December.

The Valleywag story links to the blog of one affected LJ staffer – who is involved with a new open source social networking site called Dreamwidth – which is still in development. Assuming the folk involved in developing Dreamwidth can still put time into it (if they’re now out of work, looking for jobs or starting new jobs they may not be able to) – this could be a good time for them to launch. Especially since other blogging or social networking sites which seem large, active and (at least relatively) ‘safe’ from the current economic climate (such as WordPress or Facebook) just aren’t replacements for LJ.

Most people who haven’t used it extensively don’t “get” LiveJournal, and it kind of stands apart from the way both blogs and social networking sites have developed over the past few years. If you want to know more about the evolution of LiveJournal and just how groundbreaking it was in terms of ahead-of-the-curve features, this is a great read (also good for anyone working on a blogging or social networking site, really): Lessons from the failure of Livejournal: when NOT to listen to your users.

Blogs have changed a lot since LJ’s inception. While they started out as private “journalling” sites often only visited by a few friends of the blogger, generally speaking blogging has now become very much about broadcasting – being public. LJ allows you to broadcast publicly or maintain a private/friends only blog if you prefer – and you can control this on a post by post or whole-of-blog security settings. Also, LJ supports a number of active social communities (yes, including the Harry Potter slashfic community which sadly seems to be all most people know of LiveJournal).

Because LJ has evolved a fairly unique user base, it could be a really good time for Dreamwidth to launch, because I certainly don’t know what I’d suggest to my LJ friends and communities as an alternative to LiveJournal.

It’s going to be an interesting few months ahead. This is not the first time LJ users have faced uncertaintly – as over the course of its life it has gone from being a community site founded by (now-Googler) Brad Fitzpatrick, to a commercial entity owned by Six Apart and now Sup. Many LJers are exploring backup and export options right now – no-one wants to lose years of blog entries, not to mention the contact details of their online friends.

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