Infrastructure // Networking
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5/13/2011
06:28 PM
David F Carr
David F Carr
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Learning To Fake Sincerity, Spontaneity In Social Media

The puzzle of sincerity and spontaneity versus security and control.

You know what they say about sincerity: once you learn to fake that, you've got it made. Something like that may be true of enterprise social media, at least in organizations that insist on a high level of corporate control.

The secrets to success in social media are sincerity and spontaneity, and organizations that can't stand (or can't afford) to be truly spontaneous will have to learn how to fake it convincingly. If their every social statement reads like it came out of a press release or a 10-K statement, who would want to friend or follow that?

By the way, the quote I'm riffing on is, "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." Sometimes attributed to George Burns (who may have said something similar about acting), it apparently goes back to Jean Giraudoux, the French diplomat, dramatist, and novelist. Or at least that's what Google is telling me.

Sincerity and spontaneity are on my mind following an article I did on the control financial advisors must exercise over social media, which in some cases extends to prescreening posts, or at least archiving them for later review.

Then this week I read a BetaNews article based on a Palo Alto Networks network traffic study that touched on the increased use of Web encryption in social media connections--and why that might be a bad thing, or at least a mixed blessing.

Applications using SSL represent 25% of the applications detected and 23% of the overall bandwidth used, according to the Palo Alto Networks study, which notes, "This segment of applications will continue to grow as more applications follow Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail, who all have enabled SSL either as a standard setting or as a user-selectable option." Palo Alto Networks said it based these findings on 1,253 enterprise network traffic assessments conducted between October 2010 and April 2011.

Encrypting entire Facebook sessions struck me as silly at first. Why protect every post and friend connection with the same encryption as a credit card transaction? Why not limit SSL to protecting your password when you first sign in? But authenticated sessions can be hijacked by someone with the skills to intercept unencrypted Web "cookie" files, which are transmitted with every connection to the Web server. So encrypted connections to social media and other Internet services are good for protecting employee accounts on those services. On the other hand, encryption potentially makes communications opaque to the corporately sanctioned prying eyes of compliance and information security teams.

Does your company really need to see everything an employee posts to Facebook or Twitter? Some companies apparently do, or think they do. And they may be right. The employee who transmits a confidential document to a competitor as an attachment to a Facebook message is doing no less damage than the one who does the same thing on the corporate email system, but the risk of being caught might be less. So the more conservative organizations that don't just block social media websites outright may demand that employees submit to monitoring and archiving of social media traffic--either by going through a proxy server that gives the company visibility into message content or by allowing their messages to be monitored through application programming interfaces from the service providers.

Blane Warrene is CEO of BMRW & Associates, which works with financial advisory firms and other financial services organizations on social media management. He told me customers of the firm's Arkovi archiving service typically stop at archiving posts to corporate profiles.

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