Over 1 in 3 (36%) UK employees who use Facebook have been sent a friendship request on the social networking site by a colleague, client or boss, according to The Protection Gap survey, conducted online and commissioned by Abbey Legal Protection (ALP).
When asked which Facebook-related incidents they had experienced, over one in five (21%) respondents said they had had their photos accessible for colleagues to view and nearly one in ten (8%) workers have had Facebook information and knowledge used in a workplace situation.
CEOs emerged as social networking fans with only 42% claiming not to have a Facebook page. One in seven (14%) CEOs admitted to having photos uploaded and available for employees to view and one in ten (10%) have had information about them gleaned from Facebook used in a workplace situation.
ALP urges employers to understand the potential risks for businesses, both in terms of reputation and the efficiency-related costs, of not having a clear and articulated company social networking policy in place.
Other findings from the ALP Protection Gap Facebook Survey include:
* Over 1 in 5 (21%) workers have photos accessible for colleagues to see on Facebook
* More than a quarter (29%) of both UK CEOs and senior managers have been asked to “friend” an employee, boss or client on Facebook
* More than half (52%) of 25-34 year old workers and over three fifths (62%) of 18-24 year old workers have photos accessible for their colleagues to see on Facebook
* 1 in 5 18-24 yr old workers have found their Facebook knowledge used in a workplace situation
* Marginally more female workers have been asked to “friend” a colleague, boss or client on Facebook than male workers at 38% and 34% respectively
* Workers in London are far more likely to have been asked to “friend” a colleague, boss or client on Facebook than workers in the North or Scotland at 42% to 32% and 33% respectively
Commenting on the findings, Richard Candy, Underwriting Director Abbey Legal Protection said: “The emergence of any new form of technology or means of communication can be extremely positive and bring welcome new ways of working into the workplace. Unfortunately, this also often translates to an increase in related risks for businesses and individuals. As was the case with the internet, mobile phones and email, social networking sites are no different.
“These opportunities and risks vary considerably by organisation type and sector. Whilst Facebook can help to connect people and businesses, the risks range from corporate reputation and those of specific individuals, through to security breaches and even unlawful discrimination or harassment, to name but a few.
“The key to minimising the minefields for businesses, is to have a clear policy in place that suits your organization. Ensure employees are aware and familiar with it. Make sure they understand what is deemed to be inappropriate usage, and most importantly, update your policy regularly, as new issues emerge.”
“If you have evidence to demonstrate that these measures have been taken, you will be in a much more secure position should you ever be at the centre of a social media related legal wrangling.”