Regulatory Oversight, Social Media and Privacy

Some industries have regulatory oversight for their employees which includes social media.  When I worked as the Social Media Director for a real estate company here in Las Vegas, Nevada, it was clear that part of the Broker’s oversight responsibility was the Internet and Social Media.  What their agents were saying on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. was supposed to be monitored and agents were to turn over their logins and passwords to these various sites so that they could be monitored.  In the financial services world, there are companies that do this monitoring to ensure compliance with regulatory guidelines.

Now we have 36 states that have enacted or proposed laws that prohibit employers from requiring employees to turn over their logins and passwords to their social media sites.  You can probably see how this might present an issue where regulatory responsibility falls on the employer as with a real estate Broker or Broker Dealer.

As you know, I write often about the subject of privacy and how social media has really turned privacy on its head.  We expect a certain level of privacy in our personal lives even though we enjoy chronicling our lives on such platforms as Facebook.  The concern I have here is that regulatory oversight is in direct conflict with the right to privacy and in fact, violates the Terms of Service of Facebook which specifically states that you should never share your login and password with anyone.

On the other hand, Broker Dealers and real estate Brokers could certainly be paranoid about what their financial reps and real estate professionals are spouting about on their own Facebook profile or Twitter account.  Once again, I do not see anyone talking about educating and training so that people understand how to appropriately separate their business and personal lives on social media platforms such as Facebook.

Another option is for Facebook to understand that people wear different hats and allow for a business or professional Facebook profile in addition to a regular personal profile page.  People could then be monitored on their “personal business Facebook profile” but keep their personal profile to strictly non-business.  Would people abide by that?  I would hope so if they want to maintain any semblance of separation between personal and business and any privacy.

This issue of separating your personal and professional life “online” is not going to go away.  Regulatory oversight for many industries is also something that will remain.  How do we create an environment in this brand new world of communication where personal privacy is respected and professional integrity is maintained?  If everyone played by the rules, regulatory oversight would become very boring and I am being very naive but education is key to understanding how to wear our many hats without giving up our privacy.


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