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Social Networking Sites and Changes in Workplace

Social Networking Sites and Changes in Workplace

Social Media

As governments have progressed into the digital age, much of the focus has been on citizen engagement and service. An emerging part of the e-government movement includes social media and its role in meeting citizen needs for transparency, accountability, accessibility, and participation. Social media has been defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content”. The hallmark applications found in the social media landscape include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, MySpace, Yammer, and hundreds of others. Due to the massive proliferation of social media, its use by both individuals and organizations for personal and professional reasons has come to the forefront as a critical issue at the intersection of human resources and information technology. Facebook is consistently viewed as the leader among social media tools, and recent metrics solidify its utility and importance in the lives of individual and organizational users.

Rowan (2000, pp. 355) presents current estimates place the number of Facebook users at more than 800 million, with more than 51% of all Internet-using people 12 and older in the Australian having a Facebook account. With more than half of the Australian population participating on Facebook, the platform offers governments a unique opportunity to efficiently engage and inform citizens in lean economic times. Governments have been capitalizing on the opportunity for citizen communication and connection offered by the social media outlets. In fact, a recent study conducted by indicates that a number of governors of Australian states have a social media presence for official governmental communications, with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts being the most frequently used tools. Currently, there remains a knowledge gap as neither the government nor the HR literature address the role of employees and employee conduct with respect to this new form of communication and engagement and there are many unanswered questions for government organizations around how to manage both social media and employee.

Rosenbloom and Bailey (2003) underscore the importance of understanding the legal rights of employees due to the personal liability a state or local government manager may take on for infringing on the constitutional rights of an employee. Too often, the IT department is being tasked with managing employee access and participation in social media endeavors through technical solutions without management involvement or consideration of human resources issues and challenges. The decision to utilize technology to mediate a nontechnical, HR issue is problematic at best and creates the potential for a multitude of legal challenges. This research seeks to add to the IT knowledge base through a qualitative review of social media policies that highlights trends and promising practices as well as investigates associated legal issues with respect to employee rights and social media.

Tyler (2008, pp. 69) defines this effort to use and leverage technology as a tool for better management again sets the stage for greater use ...
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