Research: Battling Risk with Policies for Blogging, Email and IM

New survey from American Management Association and ePolicy Institute illustrates how communications risks are handled today


When it comes to potential risks, unmanaged blogging dwarfs e-mail and IM. Among the blog risks detailed in Flynn's new book Blog Rules are copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, defamation, sexual harassment and other legal claims; trade secret theft, financial disclosures, and other security breaches; blog mob attacks and other PR nightmares; productivity drains; and mismanagement of electronic business records.

According to the AMA/ePolicy Institute Survey, 8% of organizations operate business blogs. In spite of the risks, only 9% have policy governing the operation of personal blogs on company time; 7% have policy governing employees' business blog use and content; 7% have rules governing the content employees may post on their personal home-based blogs; 6% use policy to control personal postings on corporate blogs; 5% have strict anti-blog policies banning blog use on company time; and merely 3% have blog record retention policies in place.

"With 55% of business blogs 'facing out' for customers and other third parties to read, the lack of written blog rules is a potentially costly oversight," said Flynn. "Considering that less than 2% of organizations assign a lawyer or other responsible party to review employees' entries and third parties' comments prior to posting, the enforcement of written usage and content rules is a business-critical best practice for any organization engaged in blogging."

In addition to policy, employers are advised to take advantage of technology tools to help manage employees' blog use (and misuse). Seventeen percent of companies use technology to block employee access to external blog URLs, and another 12% regularly monitor the blogosphere to see what is being written about them. As revealed by the 2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute, blog monitoring and blocking lag behind Internet and e-mail surveillance. Fully 76% of employers monitor employees' Website connections; 65% use technology to block connections to banned Websites; and 55% monitor e-mail.

The 2006 Workplace E-Mail, Instant Messaging & Blog Survey is co-sponsored by American Management Association (www.amanet.org) and The ePolicy Institute (www.epolicyinstitute.com). A total of 416 companies participated: 35% represent companies employing 100 or fewer workers, 101-500 employees (19%), 501-1,000 (7%), 1,001-2,500 (11%), 2,501-5,000 (8%) and 5,001 or more (20%). In 2005, 526 U.S. businesses participated in the Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute. In 2004, 840 U.S. businesses participated in the 2004 Workplace E-Mail and IM Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute. In 2001, 435 organizations participated in the 2001 Electronic Policies and Procedures Survey from American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.