December 23, 2011

Social media ranking: how much “Klout” do you have?

Posted in Facebook, Social Media in the Workplace, Social Media Ranking tagged , , , , , , , at 10:09 am by Tom Jacobson

I’m a 29.  I’m not entirely sure what that means, except that on a scale of 1 to 100, Klout says it’s my social media ranking.  I guess I should try to improve that.

We love to rank things.  From David Letterman’s “Top Ten” lists to  Olympic medals and the latest political polls, there is no end to the hierarchies we create. So, I suppose it should come as no surprise that we now have social media rankings.

According to a  WCCO television report, Sites Help You Manage Your Social Networking Imprint (12/22/11), sites such as Klout and Reppify now track how we use sites like Facebook and Twitter, and they then rank us based on our “influence and social network personality.”

From an employment perspective, social media rankings present an interesting dilemma.  On one hand employers need to rank people in order to make decisions ranging from hiring to firing.  According to Carlson School of Management professor Ravi Bapna, who was quoted in WCCO report, your social media ranking “… sort of gives you a measure in how present you are in other people’s minds.” Thus, knowing an employee’s or applicant’s social media ranking may help an employer better understand that person’s potential sphere of influence.  Bapna sees this as useful for employers.

On the other hand, employers who choose to use social media rankings as an HR tool need to be cautious.  As Bapna notes, a person’s social media ranking is “not based on what this person is telling you in an interview, [but is] based [on] how this person is actually behaving in the real world.”  Making decisions based on someone’s “real world” behavior certainly seems like a good idea, but “real world” behavior might have nothing to do with how well the person does his or her job, and in some cases, a person’s “real world” behaviors are protected by law.  Thus, making decisions about an employee or applicant based on social media posts relating to his/her “real world” behaviors can be risky.

To the extent social media rankings paint an objective picture of a person’s social media clout, they may be useful in some workplaces.  An objective ranking, if gathered as a part of an established policy and procedure, is certainly better information than the Facebook post showing Johnny wearing a lampshade.

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2011 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

October 22, 2010

Facebook follies continue to confound

Posted in Cyber Bullying, Social Media in the Workplace, Social Networking tagged , , , , at 3:17 pm by Tom Jacobson

Sometimes you just have to ask  yourself, “What were they thinking?” 

In a story today in the Red Tape Chronicles, MSNBC reports on the growing number of cases where Facebook interactions between teachers and students have crossed multiple boundaries (Teachers, Students and Facebook, a Toxic Mix, http://redtape.msnbc.com/2010/10/).   According to the story, three teachers were fired after posting comments like “This is sexy” under girls’ pictures.  Some of them even used Facebook to initiate real-life relationships with students.

A Pennsylvania school suspended a teacher after photos of her with a stripper showed up on Facebook.  A Florida teacher was suspended after posting a comment about how he “hated” his students and school.  In Washington, D.C. a special education teacher posted “You’re a retard, but I love you.”

On the flip-side the MSNBC story also notes that fake profiles attacking teachers and school administrators also abound on Facebook.  And, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, at least one student has been successful in gaining First Amendment protection under the United States Constitution for her Facebook criticism of her English teacher.

As Facebook and other social networking sites continue to evolve, so will the body of law surrounding it.  In the meantime, employers and employees would be wise to realize that while social networking sites can be a great business tool, they can also be a tremendous liability if not handled properly.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney. 

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