New social media study probes boundaries between public and private use

Apr 03, 2014 by Niki Widdowson

(Phys.org) —A quick post to Facebook here, a scroll through Instagram there, and a little bit of Twitter somewhere else - our involvement in virtual social networks is a pervasive feature of our everyday lives.

But the use of in the workplace raises questions about how much time spent on such activities is tolerated, what is acceptable content, and what types of online information should be accessed.

A new QUT Business School study, led by Associate Professor Paula McDonald, is asking these questions of employees in a short online survey across Australia and the UK to investigate how people use and manage social media in the context.

The study is part of Professor McDonald's ongoing social media at work research in partnership with Scotland's University of Strathclyde.

"We are seeking participants to complete an online survey that asks them what they consider to be the boundaries between the use of social media in the workplace and in their private lives," Professor McDonald said.

"We are also interested in the job-related social media experiences of employees, and what organisations are doing in terms of developing and implementing social media policies."

Professor McDonald said the all-pervading nature of social media was creating a minefield for employers and employees alike.

"We've analysed media reports, websites and published studies and found four principal areas of potential conflict around social media that have been the subject of recent legal cases in courts and employment tribunals. These are:

  • profiling, which involves employers gathering online information about job applicants
  • disparaging blogs, where employers dismiss or discipline employees for bringing the company into disrepute
  • the private use of social media by employees during work time
  • online bullying and harassment.
  • "Employers have raised concerns about ' use of social media because it may threaten their corporate reputation, reduce productivity, and lead to claims of vicarious liability for damaging online behaviours," Professor McDonald said.

"Employees, on the other hand, are often concerned about their right to a private identity, to voice their experiences and views within and outside the workplace, and to work in a safe and harmonious environment.

"Balancing these perspectives may be complicated by generational differences in what is considered appropriate for private conversation and public disclosure."

"Our ultimate aim for this research is to help build an understanding of the use and management of social media at work."

Explore further: 'Ivory tower' bucking social media

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Ivory tower' bucking social media

Mar 31, 2014

University scholars are largely resisting the use of social media to circulate their scientific findings and engage their tech-savvy students, a Michigan State University researcher argues in a new paper.

The personal is not so private

Jun 13, 2012

Almost one third of employees use Facebook at work but aren't too worried about being tracked by their employers, according to astudy released this week.

Social media, self-esteem and suicide

Feb 10, 2014

In nations where corruption is rife it seems that citizens these days find an escape from the everyday problems that trickle down to their lives by using online social media more than those elsewhere. Research to be published ...

Recommended for you

UK: Former reporter sentenced for phone hacking

5 hours ago

(AP)—A former British tabloid reporter was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence Thursday for his role in the long-running phone hacking scandal that shook Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Evaluating system security by analyzing spam volume

5 hours ago

The Center for Research on Electronic Commerce (CREC) at The University of Texas at Austin is working to protect consumer data by using a company's spam volume to evaluate its security vulnerability through the SpamRankings.net ...

Surveillance a part of everyday life

6 hours ago

Details of casual conversations and a comprehensive store of 'deleted' information were just some of what Victoria University of Wellington students found during a project to uncover what records companies ...

European Central Bank hit by data theft

7 hours ago

(AP)—The European Central Bank said Thursday that email addresses and other contact information have been stolen from a database that serves its public website, though it stressed that no internal systems or market-sensitive ...

Twitter admits to diversity problem in workforce

9 hours ago

(AP)—Twitter acknowledged Wednesday that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.

Social Security spent $300M on 'IT boondoggle'

21 hours ago

(AP)—Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims.

User comments : 0