Social Networks and Accountability


Quite a few of the folks out there would have seen the quirks of corporate firewalls. Whenever you are blocked from checking out a particular site (and I am not talking about objectionable content here … one could argue that what is objectionable to one may not be objectionable to another, but I would argue that in an Office environment, we would definitely need to go by the lowest common multiplier), you are coming up against the debate on the trade-off between networking (which is not necessarily a bad thing), and accountability. And I am not talking about corporate accountability, but rather, about individual accountability to society.

The question is simple … How do we ensure accountability to adhere to socially acceptable standards in the domain of social networking. Luis Suarez had written about this on one of his posts on ITToolbox which you could read here.

One way of looking at the problem is that social networks tend to be self-correcting, in that members would typically ensure that undesirable behaviour is discouraged to the point that it would slowly and surely be stamped out. The concern, however, is that by then quite a bit of damage has been done.

Organizations could address this in either a reactive or a proactive mode. There may, in fact, be merit to the thought that the rules of engagement for social networking (in the workplace, and here, by workplace I dont just mean the Office, but the working community), should be no different from professional networking. This is because end of the day, when talking about the applicability of Social Computing in the Knowledge Management space, we are talking about that point where social networking and professional networking converge.

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