Internet Privacy: When Boundaries Are No Longer Clear

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The Internet and social media are blurring many of the limits that we have assumed. Some dichotomies, that until recently we had very clear, today have limits that are more widespread, like the professional/personal domain, the public/private sphere and internal/external communication.  All of them have common link: privacy.

Let’s analyze each pair separately:

  • Professional/personal domain. Until recently, it was not difficult for us to distinguish between what was work and what formed a part of our personal life. However, nowadays it is not as easy to separate them. The act of being permanently connected does not help: on our smartphones we receive emails and social media alerts, our “friends” on social media are our schoolmates, colleagues from work, our bosses and even clients and providers. New technologies change the form of work and the way work is organized. Telecommuting is expanding and more and more, it is becoming customary for professionals to collaborate with businesses in a punctual way, and not in a wage-earning manner. For this, it is more important to manage personal brands, brands that accompany us for the rest of our lives, everywhere we work.
  • Public/private sphere. On the internet, everything is only one click away from becoming public. Even though you share a photo on Facebook with just your friends, any of your friends can download the photo and share it with whomever they want. This is something that happens more frequently in the professional sphere: supposedly private information that a worker shares on social media and then gets passed on to form a part of the public sphere. From community managers who publish a tweet by error or confuse their private account with their work account, to employees who spread news redundantly on Twitter.
  • Internal/external communication. If any of the information shared by the company with its employees can jump to social media at any moment, ¿where is the boundary between internal and external communication? 

Without a doubt, these are challenges faced by businesses and individuals. The keys to answer these scenarios happen by having a digital attitude and by common sense (sometimes not common sense).

Therefore, companies should concentrate more on form and less on banning. Counting on internal communication channels is also important, even if the companies have been conscious that information cannot be controlled, even though they manage it. 

Cristina Aced (@blogocorp) is a journalist and communication and public relations consultant. She has specialized in the digital area and has published several books on the topic. Her most recent one is Relaciones públicas 2.0. Cómo gestionar la comunicación corporativa en el entorno digital (Editorial UOC). She collaborates as a lecturer at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, the Open University of Catalonia, and at the Universitat Abat Oliba, among others. Since 2006 she has been writing at Blog-o-corp.

Having private internal communication channels with your employees, collaborators or providers will help you manage your communication and avoid some of the situations described here. Do you want to see how other companies and businesses have implemented Enterprise Social Networks successfully? Download our whitepaper on good practices and take a look.