There are at least 14 ways that small businesses could become ensnared by social networking. How many can you name? Knowing what all of these nightmares are means knowing how to prevent them. Ignorance isn’t bliss -- it’s misery.
1. Online reputation integrity.
Do you keep tabs on your company’s Facebook page to see just what goes on it? What’s being put there by employees? Even “good-natured” things can be taken the wrong way by visitors.
2. Racy text or images
If your employees do this, it could taint your company’s reputation. Though you can’t control what your teenage employees do on social media at their homes, you can educate them. Usually it’s ignorance that rules, not malicious intent. Adults too, should be educated that inappropriate posting can tarnish your reputation. This includes something as seemingly innocent as posing half naked on a car in your business’s parking lot.
3. Imposters posing as your company
Though it requires some work, it’s worth it. Continuously patrol the web to spot any malicious use of your business’s name or logo. This includes a phony site purporting to be that of your business. Sign up for Google Alerts so that whenever your business’s name appears in a new article or post online, the link gets sent to your email. Of course, just to play safe, don’t click on the link inside the email. Instead, copy and paste it into your address box.
4. Financial ID theft
Something as seemingly harmless as posting your employee’s new puppy’s name could lead to financial identity theft. It’s not uncommon for people to use their pet’s name as part of a password or answer to a security question. The numbers in birthdays and wedding dates are also commonly used in passwords. Your company’s Facebook page should be void of these personal details that a hacker could use to crack passwords. A photo of the puppy is fine, but leave the name a mystery.
5. Geo tracking on photos
Make sure that GPS technology is turned off so that criminals can’t stalk you or your employees. Though location-based GPS technology can be a life saver, don’t have this turned on unless your life might depend on it.
6. Home robberies
You and your employees should be educated about the dangers of posting vacation or business travel information on social media. Burglars scan these to see whose houses they can rob while the occupants are away on a trip.
7. Corporate snooping
A spy could set up a Facebook page, pose as a fellow employee from another branch and recruit authentic employees to join his Facebook group. This way he can extract sensitive company information over time.
8. Sex offenders
Know whom you connect with online. Tell your employees to use discretion when communicating with a new contact. The new contact could be a sex offender posing as someone innocent.
Sooner or later you may have a disgruntled employee. Maybe it’s someone you fired for poor performance. Maybe it’s someone still working for you. It could even be your secretary. Do you treat your employees well?
A “picked-on” employee can get revenge by posting bad reviews about your company on various sites, using just their initials or a common name such as “Susan Campbell.” This slighted employee may even set up a blog all about how bad your business is. Treat your employees well, and be on the lookout for angry tweets and posts.
It has happened: an employee posts bully-like comments on the company’s Facebook page in response to posts from the public.
11. Government spying
An Associated Press report states “U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects. Just don’t be a 'suspect.'” Don’t blindly friend people on Facebook.
12. Phony sites
A criminal or even your business’s competition could set up a phony site, maybe on Facebook or a blog-like site, to extract information about your company from unsuspecting visitors or people who’ve been lured there. This information can include the names of your clients and their emails, phone numbers, account numbers, etc.
13. Account takeover
Earlier this year, the Dow plunged 150 points. Why? The Twitter account for the Associated Press was hacked. The hacker tweeted that President Obama had been injured in a White House attack. Seemingly coming from the AP, this news came across as authentic. Any shocking news tweets that comes from even seemingly legitimate sources should be first carefully considered, as employees may receive these on their Twitter accounts.
14. Legal liability
Though the privacy settings on Facebook can hide posts, this doesn’t mean they can’t be used as evidence in court.
The bottom line is there’s really no such thing as full privacy just because you have the privacy settings switched on. Skilled hackers can penetrate Facebook and dig up the worms.