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AVG Technologies Study Reveals Social Media Stokes Workplace Privacy Fears

Stocks in this article: AVG

More than half of adults (53 percent) believe privacy in the workplace has been eroded with the proliferation of social media, reveals AVG Technologies’ latest Digital Diaries study, Digital Work Life. The seventh installment in AVG’s Digital Diaries series includes responses from 4,000 adults in ten countries in relation to cyberbullying in the workplace.

The study found that the misuse of social media has infiltrated the workplace with often negative effects on employees’ privacy, forcing many to switch off or limit their use of social networking sites. One in ten respondents discovered secret discussions about them online were initiated by colleagues using social media, and 11 percent have had embarrassing photos or videos taken at a work event and uploaded onto social media sites. This is as high as 19 percent in Spain and 14 percent in the UK. A small number of all adults (6 percent) even found themselves subjected to unwanted romantic advances through online media, and in the US this number rose to one in ten of all adults.

As the use of social media increases for both personal and professional purposes, the privacy many workers value and expect is slowly diminishing through employee misuse and cyberbullying. To prevent personal information from being circulated at work, many adults are turning away from social media altogether. Of those who agreed social media has eroded their privacy at work, nearly a quarter (24 percent) now avoid posting on social networks that have caused them privacy concerns, while 23 percent limit their posts. More than half (53 percent) are more careful about what they post.

Tony Anscombe, AVG’s Senior Security Evangelist, said: “This study highlights the need for a combination of greater education around social media alongside stricter enforcement of the accompanying standards for social media etiquette at work. And we’re not just talking about employees here; employers can trip themselves up just as easily when managing the company’s own social media presence. Until everyone is clear about exactly what is and isn’t acceptable online behavior, trying to enforce policies will just fail, leaving the door open to cyberbullying and invasion of privacy. If organizations take the time to first educate before establishing and enforcing policies, privacy can be protected in the workplace without having to sacrifice any of the social activity we all enjoy.”

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