The use of internet has become increasingly important in daily lives to stay connected with the world. Social media has emerged as a popular platform for self expression, promotion and communication. In the initial days, these sites acted as a facilitator for use of information. But in recent years, many cases have emerged that signifies the need to control online identity leak. The following report is carried with the purpose of gaining understanding on the purpose and goals of social media presence and usage by different identities. An attempt is also made to analyze the challenges and issues associated with the online engagement. Additionally, strategies and opportunities are also discussed for overcoming the risk. Furthermore, strategic means of online sites and tools will be analyzed to help users with safe and control usage.
The purpose and goals of social media presence and usage that applies to a Finance professional employed in the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department in UK must be appropriate and involve differentiation based on the usage. Further, the usage of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In is categorized into three types - personal, official and professional (Mathur, 2012). The personal usage simply refers to activities and comments that does not relates with the professional and official means. The difference between professional and official usage is that professional is related with the expression of feelings in personal capacity. While, official is related with the engagement and activities as finance official of the department (Scott, Peter and Jacka, 2011).
Social media presents the unique characteristic of media in comparison with traditional means. The speed and scope defines that once the content is posted, it is available instantly to mass audience and will remain forever. Also, it can be noted that usage of social media has evolved and increased because of the multiple tools that are free of charge or available at a very low cost. The relatively easy usage of tools and its high interaction with the public makes it difficult to control the content (Wankel, 2010). Further, the usage of social media as a Finance Consultant requires a discrete line of difference for personal, professional and official purpose. It is because the unique features of social media mentioned above are vulnerable to pose issues and challenges in online participation.
There could be ethical challenges as risk of maintaining integrity of HMRC. It refers the situation when finance consultant behaves in an irresponsible way on social media account of the department (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). It can be understood as when any user posted negative remarks on the fan page of the department and in response to it, the consultant uses offensive language. This undermines the commitment and integrity of the organisation to maintain ethical practice and violates the department's principles of behaviour.
In order to address the ethical challenges of social media, it is important that HMRC must address the risk and take actions to counteract it. The department can introduce a policy that governs the usage of social media for official purposes. The policy must be consistent with ethical and communication policies of department (Gilbert and Karahalios, 2009). It is required that policy includes three main areas - the usage of social media for official purposes. This includes communication policies and manners and most importantly prior confirmation with the higher authority for any information. The second area covers the use of social media for official purpose. As a financial consultant, the employee can express views and make recommendations about the professional experience and knowledge of finance and tax. The third area provide guidance about the usage for personal purpose (Shirky, 2011).
HMRC must develop a code of conduct for to ensure proper use of social media in all three categories:
Security Standards and Policies - The department is recommended to develop a guidance policy and have it signed by all the employees. The policy covers the us of internet at work, access to social media tools, behavioural standards for communication on official account (Correa, Hinsley and De Zuniga, 2010).
Monitor - The department must have a monitoring body and employees must be aware that their every action on internet is recorded and failure to comply with rules and guideline of department's policy will result in strict disciplinary actions or dismissal from the duties (Culnan, McHugh and Zubillaga, 2010).
Limited Access - The employees at HMRC would only be allowed to access social media site during break time. There are software available that restrict or limit usage for few computers only.
Education and Training - At HMRC, the finance consultant must be trained for official use of social networking tools. The consultant may not be aware about the procedure and guidelines or security issues for official usage. An important thing in this concern is the secrecy of login credentials (Hessinger, 2013). Alternatively, the consultant must learn the usage of language in terms of vocabulary and behaviour while responding to queries and comments of other departments and general public. Additionally, the consultant also aware of the suspicious links and pay attention when anybody asks for any in-depth details about the functions or members of the department (Scott, Peter and Jacka, 2011).
Balance Between Official, Profession and Personal - The consultant ensures that personal and professional usage of social networking tools at workplace must be restricted or limited, so that contents must not collide or mistaken among the identities (Mathur, 2012).
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