Although the use of Social Media provides many benefits, it also comes with a lot of risks that can affect people not only on a personal level, but also on a business or professional level.
Therefore, the aim of this research – which is conducting an in-depth analysis of Business and Professional Risks – includes:
- building a collection of real-life incidents and generalize them into issues
- creating templates in order to describe when and how a risk occurs, who the responsible and affected stakeholders are and what could be potential consequences
- derive a risk classification
This work builds on and extends the FG EIM’s earlier work on Business and Professional Risks of Social Media.
In order to be able to understand the content of this Blog post, the relevant terminology will now be introduced.
An Incident is a very specific case taken from real-life. Incidents usually include names and places, as well as a detailed description of what happened.
“A nursing student took a photo of a pediatric patient when his mom was out and posted it on Facebook.”(IN73)
An Issue is a more generic form of an Incident. Issues usually describe potential risk-related actions without naming specific details.
“A medical student posts confidential patient information.”(IS06)
A Risk is a very generic description of the overall risk area an Issue occurs in.
“Disclosure of Confidential Information.”(R13)
The following section will introduce the research approach of this project. As part of the Literature Analysis (WP2), the current state of research in the area of Social Media Business or Professional Risks was analysed. In particular this included an analysis of the used terminology in order to define our own Terminology , as well as an extraction and organisation of author keywords, that can be used as search terms for the next research step, which is the Collection of Incidents and Issues (WP3).
The Collection (WP3) and the creation of Collection Templates (WP4) was executed in parallel, as the templates have been constantly refined during the collection process. We started the Collection (WP3) using existing academic literature and later on switched to online sources (e.g. newspaper articles, blog posts). All Incidents, Issues and Risks that have been extracted from both academic and online sources have been analysed and stored in the corresponding template. An example of this can be seen in the Collection Templates section below.
After finalising the templates (WP4) and completing the Collection (WP3), further Issues and Risks have been derived from the existing Collection. The resulting risks have then been compared to the current FGEIM Risk Classification. The results were used to refine the list of risks and as a next step our own Risk Classification has been created (WP5).
As described in the Research Approach above, this project was very literature-based, so in total we covered 152 academic and 110 online sources. Both the literature research and the derivation of own Incidents, Issues and Risks resulted in the collection of 98 Incidents, 105 Issues and 55 Risks.
In order to be able to store Incidents, Issues and Risks, templates have been created. The following accordion shows the content of each template column using the three examples described in the Terminology above. The three differently colored bullet points show the examples on Incident (light blue), Issue (medium blue) and Risk (dark blue) level respectively. As not all columns are relevant for all three templates (Incident, Issue, Risk) the icons show whether the column is present in that particular template (shaded) or not (white).
A unique identifier containing the type and a number
- Disclosure of Confidential Information
- A nursing student took a photo of a pediatric patient when his mom was out and posted it on Facebook.
- A medical student posts confidential patient information.
- It is often the case, that confidential business/client/patient/student information are made public using Social Media.
Date of the Incident (Month and Year)
Person who is responsible
- Nursing Student
- Medical Student
Person who is the main target
Who pressed charges/went public?
- Another Nurse
Other people, that are affected
- Dean of Nursing Program; Hospital
Where did the Incident take place? (usually a specific social network)
What type of media was used?
- Post; Photo
Were the accounts used for the action (source and target) private or company accounts?
What was the content of the medium?
- “This is my 3-year-old leukemia patient who is bravely receiving chemotherapy. I watched the nurse administer his chemotherapy today and it made me so proud to be a nurse.”; In the photo, Room 324 of the pediatric unit was easily visible.
- confidential patient information
Why is this a problem/risk?
- Violation of Policies; Breach of patient confidentiality; HIPAA violation
- Unprofessional content; Confidentiality
How big was the impact? How many people were reached?
How did the stakeholders react?
- Other stakeholder (Dean of Nursing Program) called Initiator into her office
What were the (legal) consequences for the stakeholders?
- Initiator was expelled from the program
What long-term measures did the stakeholders take? (e.g. policies)
- Other Stakeholder (hospital) contacted federal officials about the HIPAA violation and began to institute more strict policies about use of cell phones at the hospital
Sources from academic literature and online sources
- (Barry and Hardiker, 2012; Basevi, Reid and Godbold, 2014; NCSBN, 2011)
- (Chauhan, George and Coffin, 2012; Peck, 2013)
- (Berman, Grande, & Hedges, 2017; Brown & Hader, 2010)
Is this a Business, Professional or Personal risk? If so, how (active/passive; intentional/unintentional)?
- Business; Professional
- Business; Professional
Cross-references to existing Issues/Risks
- IS06; R13; R33
- IN73; R13; R33
- IN73; IS06; among others
If this is part of the chain, which one (Chain ID) and with which Incidents/Issues?
In the course of this project, a total number of 55 risks divided into 5 categories has been identified. The five main categories including several examples are shown below.
Human Risks include Risks that occur due to human failure.
Examples: Offensive Statement, Monitoring (Blurring Boundaries)
Content Risks cover all Risks that involve any type of document or information.
Examples: Disclosure of Confidential Information, Uncontrolled Spreading of Information, Uninformed Statement, Uncontrolled Transformation, Inappropriate Information, False Information
Compliance Risks include Risks that deal with breaking laws or policies.
Examples: Violation of Profession-Related Laws, Violation of Company Policies
Operational Risks cover all Risks related to the company’s operations, finances etc.
Examples: Inappropriate Customer Interaction, Financial
Identity Risks include Risks that involve the stakeholder’s Social Media accounts and reputation.
Examples: Defamation, Negative Representation, Negative Self-Presentation; Negative Exposure
Incidents, Issues and Risks do not necessarily occur individually, they can also appear in so-called Chains. This means, that for example an Incident can be the consequence of another Incident. The following sections introduced visualised Chains of all identified types.
Risk Chains can be observed on all levels, as both Incidents and Issues can have multiple risks at once, or even changes in risks over time. An example of a Risk Chain as part of an Incident can be seen in the following figure. In this Incident, a musician uploaded a video, exposing how United Airlines handled and eventually broke his guitar. One of the consequences for United Airlines was, that their stock price fell 10%, costing stockholders about $180 million in value, which is why the initial risk (Negative Exposure) turned into a Financial risk after a while
IN05: A musician uploaded a video of a song about United Airlines breaking his guitar on YouTube.
Generally, two Incidents in a chain have at least one stakeholder in common. This leads to the following realistic combinations:
- A/B → B/A: Initiator and Victim switch from one Incident to the other.
- A/B → C/A: A party not involved in the first Incident is the Initiator of the second Incident, targeting the Initiator of the first Incident.
- A/B → A/B: Both Initiator and Victim are the same for both Incidents
In the first two combinations, the Initiator turns into the Victim, whereas in the third combination, the stakeholders stay exactly the same.
In the chain shown in the figure below, a customer uses a restaurant’s Facebook page to complain about her meal. Afterwards, the restaurant’s chef offensively replies to the complaint. While the initial risk is of defamatory nature (Defamation), the second Incident not only covers two separate risks (Offensive Statement and Inappropriate Customer Interaction), but it also contains a Risk Chain as the two risks lead to a Negative Representation of the restaurant by the chef.
IN99: A disgruntled Pigalle customer complained on Facebook about her Thanksgiving meal rather than calling the restaurant or saying something.
IN95: The Pigalle chef offensively replied to a customer complaint.
The next Incident Chain with changing stakeholders can be seen in the figure below. Here, a lawyer posts confidential legal information on his private account. Now, friends of the lawyer comment on the post, which leads to the post being visible on their accounts too and ultimately spreads the confidential information.
When analyzing the containing Risks, it can be seen that the first Incident is a case of Disclosure of Confidential Information which is a clear Violation of Profession-Related Laws. As a result of the second Incident, the information is spread (Uncontrolled Spreading of Information), which again leads to (an even bigger) Disclosure of Confidential Information.
IN18: A junior lawyer posted information about a process so that another lawyer could work out the matter in question.
IN63: Friends of the junior lawyer commented on one of his posts containing information about a process.
As already mentioned above, the stakeholders do not necessarily have to change. Often, the Initiator and Victim are the same in both parts of the Chain.
In the Incident Chain shown below – which has only an Initiator and no Victim – Delta Air lines posts an Uninformed Statement on Twitter, which leads to a Negative Self-Presentation. After realizing what they posted, they tried to control the damage, by apologizing with another Tweet. However, they accidentally referred to their errant tweet as “precious” instead of “previous”. In this case, the Lack of Quality/Reliability lead to an even more Negative Self-Presentation, which shows, that risks can also occur during damage control and result in the opposite effect.
IN58: Delta Air Lines posted on Twitter showing they do know nothing about Ghana.
IN79: Delta Air Lines referred to an errant tweet as its “precious” tweet instead of its “previous” tweet.
In addition to Chains that happen exclusively online, there is also the possibility of offline events being part of a chain. This can occur in two different ways: either the chain starts offline and continues online, or vice versa.
Generally speaking, Issue Chains are similar to Incident Chains, as Issues are just a more generalized form of an Incident. However, this universality also leads to the fact, that more than two Issues can be involved in a single chain. In the following Chain it can be distinguished between the left and the right side. While the left side shows the way of getting access to a company’s Social Media account (in this case a third party imitating or hacking the account), the right side shows the next step, i.e. what is done to the account afterwards. This can include for example posting inappropriate or false information. Therefore, any Issue from the left side can occur in a chain with one or more Issues from the right side.
IS45: A third party imitates a company Social Media account.
IS43: A third party posts inappropriate information from a company Social Media account.
IS99: A third party hacks a company Social Media account.
IS54: A third party posts false information from the company account.
A main suggestion for future research is the collection of more Incidents. Expanding the Collection built during this research project leads to the ability to make representative and general statements about Social Media risks.
As the Collection can be easily transformed into a database with tables for Incidents, Issues and Risks, the next step would be to connect the individual tables using the ID’s as foreign keys. Afterwards, database views can be created and used for further evaluations of the database content.
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