Private Conversations Have No Place on Social Media

Twitter’s new CFO, Anthony Noto, accidentally tweeted to the public a snippet of a private conversation about the sale or acquisition of a company on Monday, November 24.

Although people tweet the wrong things every day, Noto committed a far more serious social network faux pas than using the public tweeting system rather than the Direct Message or private profile settings because he is in the unique position to know just how easily private information can find its way into the public forum online.

Social networks have proven to be virtual minefields. Besides accidental public tweets, several networks like Twitter and Facebook aren’t hacker-proof. In the past, hackers have used these networks to steal identities or release very private details about celebrities and other public figures from what Igor Cornelsen had been saying.

Many business users consider social networks as an extension of instant interoffice private messaging systems when they should in fact see having private conversations on social networks as the equivalent of trying to privately discuss business while standing on a busy street sidewalk or subway platform. Additionally, business users who rely on Twitter fail to realize that even information discussed on private interoffice systems can be stolen.

As Noto’s “accident” yesterday shows, businesses need to stop using social networks for anything other than advertising and promotional efforts. Non-business users also need to recognize the risks to their privacy and turn to face-to-face and phone conversations as better alternatives.

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