October 3, 2013

Study Finds Social Media in the Workplace Breeds Widespread Privacy Fears

social media conceptA recent study released by AVG Technologies, in its Digital Diaries series of blogs, has revealed that 53 percent of working adults feel that their privacy is threatened in the workplace due to the growing presence of social media. Spurring these fears include findings that 10 percent of survey respondents said they had uncovered secret discussions about them online held by coworkers while 11 percent said inappropriate images or videos at a work-related event had been posted to social media sites. In the U.S., about 10 percent of working adults have been approached through social media channels for the purpose of unwanted romantic advances.

Many workers negatively affected by social media are turning away from it entirely. Of those participants who had experienced a loss of privacy due to social media at work, 24 percent said they avoid the social networks that have caused them concern. An additional 23 percent limit their posts and 53 percent filter what they post online.

“This study highlights the need for a combination of greater education around social media alongside stricter enforcement of the accompanying standards for social media etiquette at work. And we’re not just talking about employees here; employers can trip themselves up just as easily when managing the company’s own social media presence. Until everyone is clear about exactly what is and isn’t acceptable online behavior, trying to enforce policies will just fail, leaving the door open to cyber bullying and invasion of privacy. If organizations take the time to first educate before establishing and enforcing policies, privacy can be protected in the workplace without having to sacrifice any of the social activity we all enjoy,” said Tony Anscombe, AVG’s Senior Security Evangelist.

Other key findings include: 82 percent of workers feel that social media abuse in the workplace is cyber bullying; 9 percent reported having a manager use information gleaned from social media sources used against him or her; 25 percent of employees are not protected from cyber bullying from within company policies; and 50 percent of working adults believe that their company is responsible for the online behavior of their employees on their personal accounts during work hours.


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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.