Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Limits To Social Media 

This is an amusing tale from an individual at the heart of modern technology.  After a quip on Twitter that went viral, Vic Gundotra, Senior VP of Engineering at Google, was asked to stop using the medium by his boss, CEO Larry Page.  There was nothing wrong with the witticism.  In fact, it was brilliant and intelligible only to insiders.  But, that was the problem.  The insiders howled with laughter and explained the joke to everyone else who passed it on.  An obscure Tweet became an embarrassment.  So, Gundotra ceased commenting. 

There are limits to what leaders of an organization can and should say.  Social media have made it too easy for judgment to slip.  Recently, I made an error in a blog entry that unintentionally cast aspersion on a business in which a client is engaged.  I hadn't remembered that a client owned a company in the business.  It wasn't until my boss pointed to the error that I learned of my transgression. Not good.  In 10 years of blogging, I had been careful to avoid mix-ups such as this, but it happened.  Fortunately, my boss did not ask me to stop commenting, but I am more cautious than ever about topics I engage.  Social media do not confer the right of uncontrolled speech, and practitioners should never forget that.


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