Rebecca Herold
The Privacy
Tip of the Month 
Twitter may be at the top of the fastest growing social networking sites, but it's much more than social -- savvy users employ the forum primarily for business purposes to research, follow and (stir up interest in) other like-minded people. Whether or not you are tweeting yourself, it does affect the way of the world today and, even more than MySpace or Facebook, is a platform that you can use as a springboard to new business.
But watch what you say... everyone else is.
Maybe you've heard about that PR rep from Ketchum New York who dumped on the city of Memphis (saying he'd rather die than live there) while he was in town presenting to a large client, FedEx. Several employees at FedEx saw his message and one of them copied FedEx's vice president, directors, all management of FedEx's communications department and key personnel at Ketchum in on the message. Ye-ouch.

There was another instance of a Cisco job candidate tweeting about the position the company offered her saying, "Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work." A channel partner advocate for Cisco saw the message and responded: "Who is the hiring manager. I'm sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web."

These are just two of possibly hundreds of examples of how comments made in passing on Twitter have ended up with huge consequences. And amazingly enough, there have even been many times when people have tweeted personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, and social security numbers...of their customers! It may seem like common sense to avoid situations like these, but when messages can be "retweeted" around the world, how can you be sure the messages you send don't come back to bite you?
Anyone on Twitter can read your messages... including (and especially!) the people and companies about which you are tweeting! Hint: Thousands of users have keyword searches for themselves and their topics of interest. Believe me, they're watching.
Remember, even if you have protected your Twitter messages, someone else with an open Twitter account that you have allowed to read them may "retweet" (RT) your message and then it can be read by anyone.
Another consideration is that once you post anything to the Internet, including to Twitter and other social networking sites, you may as well accept that it is out there in ad infinitum... the "delete" feature of Twitter is far from being 100% effective.

Keep in mind that, unless you have blocked your posts so that only specific people that you approve of can see them, anyone in the very large and growing Twittersphere can see what you post! You never know who may be reading your messages -- your relatives, your friends, your coworkers, your customers, your enemies... or your future enemies if you are saying the wrong things in your messages!

If you are responsible for information security or privacy at your organization (or even in your home!), have you considered the potential uses and corresponding impacts of people participating in microblogs such as Twitter from your network? Now is the time to think about that and update your policies accordingly. Then, you should do some targeted training with those who are most likely to tweet, and also provide ongoing awareness communications about the related security and privacy issues.
Need assistance? I'm here to help guide and protect your company against negative exposure.

Thank you, and talk to you next month.
Rebecca Herold,
The Privacy Professor