With modern technologies, user-generated content (UGC) can be widely and easily done in many various methods, such as blogging, podcasting, social networking etc. By having large numbers of options in publishing the contents and freedom of expression, lots of people become less aware of what they can or cannot publish to the public, especially those who share their information from the use of the social media (e.g. private conversation, product/service complaints). These lead to where serious threats are created and put mentioned subjects such person/organisations into risks.
Among organisations, Kodak (Eastman Kodak Company) is a well-known company that operates its business in imaging and photographic equipment, materials and services. During 2009, the company experienced the related risks from the social media due to the PR issue of its online photo gallery service. By basing on legal risks of social networking that stated by the DundasLawyers in 2011, I decide to choose Kodak as a sample organisation in which some legal risks can be identified from its case study and addressed with the organisational social media policy as follows:
Misleading and deceptive conduct – As Kodak chose to delete vast amount of old customers’ photos, the company just came up with the limited photos’ storage options for its users, such as downloading one photo at a time, paying for a photos’ CD copy or annual storage fee. This made some customers deciding to turn against Kodak, especially those who got charged for their own photos. They posted all negative complaints about the company’s customer service on Twitter. From this situation, Kodak needs to be responsible for this false and/or misleading and deceptive statements that made by its customers on what have been mentioned in its Twitter page.
Reputation Risk – In relating to the previous risk, the use of social media such Twitter allows those negative messages from the old Kodak’s customers to be extensively spreaded to broader ranges of audiences by resharing/retweeting the following messages. The company will have no idea about those who have already viewed these related tweets, and it can be either new Kodak’s customers or its sponsor partners. This might affect the company in terms of losing its reputation and customers’ relations.
To prevent the above risks, Kodak has to apply several policies to its organisation, such as engaging the social media reputation monitoring services (e.g. Sprout, Sysomos, Radian6) in order to help it keeping track on the areas where threats can be possibly occurred. Also, the company needs to train its employees to monitor and handle social networking issues under the company’s control. Apart from what have been mentioned, the social media crisis is an uncertain type of issues, so the company should be ready and prepare the backup plans for handling it.
The social media is like two sides of the same coin. It can bring both opportunities and risks to its users. For organisations, they should learn on how to use it to maximize their performances along with minimizing the risks that can possibly impact their businesses. When it comes to the social media, almost all of the generated contents are generally what to be viewed by the public. Therefore, it is important for all users to think of consequences for every single of their actions before making any online publication through the social networks.