So one of my favourite books of all time is 1984 and this week’s lesson brought to mind the imagery that Orwell provoked in that novel. With anything you post online is available for viewing by anyone in the world, one may surely feel as if they are under constant surveillance. It seems to me that the collective can be thought of as the iconic Big Brother. Instead of being watched by telescreens, we are now being monitored through our online posts. Whenever we post on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or wikis, our opinions are out there for the world to read–and record–so it is important that we watch what we say. This can be quantified by the creation of and adherence to social media policies.
Libraries and information organizations are no stranger to policies. Sometimes, employees feel inundated with the various rules and regulations to which they must adhere. But, these policies are in place for a reason: to communicate with employees what behaviour is expected and to protect the organization from legal repercussions. In the expanding realm of social media, organizations must make policies on these issues, as was expressed in the Lauby and Kroski articles. Both authors stress the importance of expressing to employees that what they post online is available for all to see, and the content of those messages could have ramifications for the employer as well as professional repercussions for the employee if they post inappropriate content. Posts by employees can reflect poorly on the organization, such as complaining about a client, or complaining about their employer. My favourite example of this is a young women in England who got fired on Facebook for criticizing her boss.
Social media can be used to expand the sense of community. As more and more people are adopting an online presence it is important, as expressed in the Haskell article, that users be able to communicate with each other through social media. The library should be a part of this process, so a well formulated policy can help to achieve that goal. In the context of user communication, the library may be required to moderate content since it is a public organization. A policy explaining acceptable use to users is essential in order to ensure transparency.
It is also crucial that these policies be evaluated periodically to ensure the intent is being achieved. In the ever-changing world of Web 2.0 policies and tools can become quickly outdated. Evaluating these tools ensures that effort is not being wasted.
The internet acts as a record keeper of what we post there. Thus it is important that libraries and organizations have policies in place to ensure that what is posted by employees and users is appropriate, for indeed “Big Brother is watching you.”