Social Media in the City

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to "wangle" a place at the Perfect Information event "Social Media in the City". I'd only seen this advertised the day before it was due to take place but given that it was taking place just around the corner from me I was hoping the organisers would let me attend at short notice and indeed they did.

The sad news was that I was only able to stay for the first presentation, but that was fine with me because that was the one I most interested in hearing. This was a presentation from the very impressive Jonathan Armstrong who talked with great skill and humour about some of the risks associated with using Social Media tools.

One of the first thing Jonathan said was that everyday we calculate the risks we take, for example if we're about to give a presentation we normally check where we're walking to ensure we're not going to trip over wires or furniture. When we drive, most people will check their mirrors regularly, especially when undertaking manoeuvres to ensure we're not about to have an accident. But when it comes to Social Media tools we ALL tend to jump in without thinking and not worrying about the consequences of doing so, because we don't believe there will be any consequences when using these tools.

The rest of Jonathan's presentation was then devoted to explaining how Data Protection and other legislation affects how we use Social Media tools. One really interesting example was the case of Robbie Hastie who used to work at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Robbie was an assistant manager at the Bank of Scotland, who was prosecuted under data-protection legislation for disclosing salary details of football players on a BBC online football forum. He pleaded guilty at a court in Edinburgh to the offence of knowingly or recklessly disclosing this information without consent, although having the presence of the Information Commissioner in the forum probably didn't help. This case highlights that although the fine was small (£400) he lost his job as a result.

Some other examples Jonathan gave were around how the power of the internet can quickly and easily ruin a company's reputation. For example Coca Cola who have a page on their website which highlights some of the myths about Coca Cola and provides the answers to these myths. 

It was also interesting to hear about several examples of where Social media is being used as a litigation tool. For example http://westwoodscammed.me is a litigation case involving a school in the US. The case has its own website, Facebook page and Twitter feed which is uses to contact students and former employees who might want to take part in the litigation.

Overall this was a fascinating and informative presentation, which was helped immensely by Jonathan adding anecdotes and humour into the presentation. If you want to read more about Jonathan's work then a good starting point would be his article "Technical difficulties" which was published in Managing Partner magazine last year.