NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There's an old saying that "loose lips sink ships."It's an evergreen reminder that acquiring intelligence about an enemy (from careless chatter by those with important information) can lead to military victories.
Although many will look at this as Microsoft simply acquiring a social networking company, this deal also gives it potential access to internal communications, employee postings and advance notice of projects that corporations may be considering. (Of course, I would expect Microsoft to respect the law in its gathering of information.) One would think this would give it a competitive advantage and based on its collected data, it will allow it to strategically deploy its R&D resources based on corporate needs. I wonder what effect this will have or the companies that are currently using the service. Where Yammer (as an independent) was considered harmless or impartial, under Microsoft it will come with much more scrutiny -- and rightfully so. Not only does Microsoft now becomes a force of social media, but it now has a way to compete and build Yammer into a rival of LinkedIn ( LNKD). One of the benefits of Yammer is that it allows corporate employees to use private company directories to contact each other, chat and share information, including links or news posts. How hard would it be for Microsoft to then access any company's internal job posting which includes cover letters and resumes? The opportunities seem to be endless. In discussing Facebook and its dealings with privacy, I asked whether users are really mistaking the perceived problem with their own stupidity. I don't know about you, but I have seen and heard some really dumb things on many corporate networks, including instances where employees discuss corporate secrets, potential mergers or even "leak" images of a new product before it launches -- all of this as if it's not being recorded. So are employees going to now suddenly tighten those loose lips? I think that's a tall task. For that matter, I think Microsoft hopes they don't. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.