Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) Vice President Scott McClellan gave away more than his job status when he mentioned the computer maker’s new Web-storage initiative in his profile on LinkedIn Corp., a professional-networking site.
McClellan inadvertently tipped off competitors earlier this year to previously undisclosed details of Hewlett-Packard’s cloud-computing services. The information was later removed, though not before rivals got a look at the plans.
This seems to be a recurring theme. It’s happened to Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and more. A particularly common problem seems to be freelancers listing projects that they’ve worked on for clients – several upcoming video games have been confirmed in this way.
What can you do about it?
- Use it to your advantage. Monitor status updates and profile updates from your competitors’ employees. There are free built-in tools from LinkedIn and Google for doing this, or more sophisticated tools, for a price.
- As an employee/freelancer, be sure you know if what you’re working on is confidential and take that into consideration before anything you post that’s work-related. And keep in mind that you may be revealing more than just what’s in your post, such as your location at a certain point in time.
- As an employer, you can’t prevent it with technology, because employees may still post using their own devices or on their own time. You must, though:
a. Monitor social media yourself so you have early detection.
b. Educate employees clearly about confidentiality and social media.
c. Remind them about it any time you announce something internally.
Image: Matt McNier