Thursday, January 3, 2008

Writing a blogging policy is not as easy as you would think...

When we started out working out a blogging policy, it seemed fairly simple. There are private blogs and corporate blogs, and that is it.

But as we have been digging into the issue, what appears as distinct categories from the outset start blurring into each other. A corporate blog has to include some personal - and perhaps even slightly controversial - issues to attract and retain readers. Some personal blogs are more often than not about company related issues.

And is there really a difference between blogs and other types of web postings? Certainly not with regard to possible effects on the reputation of the company. So the policy needs to cover other forms of web postings that can be connected to ABB.

Also, the distinction between anonymous postings, personal postings and postings that can be connected to ABB starts blurring when you look close enough. No-one is truely anonymous on the web. If an ABB epmoyee should vandalize a Wikipedia entry about a competitor, he can be found out based on his IP address, even if he does so without identifying himself.

Here are some incidents in the past that I feel we need to address:

  • An employee posts slanderous information about the management of another company, stating his full name, title and name of ABB unit... I don't think anyone reading it would suspect ABB as such was behind it, but it is still unacceptable in my view.
  • An ABB employee has a blog that covers the use of ABB products. He feels a strong urge to tell George W. exactly what he means about the war in Iraq... He has every right to freedom of expression, but how should we handle this from the company's point of view?
  • An ABB employee anonymously stuffs articles on Wikipedia with ABB marketing material. He is outside ABB's corporate network so cannot be found out, but does that make it any more ethical? Anyone reading it would automatically suspect ABB is behind it...
  • We've also seen an much publisized incident on the web where a senior manager (not in ABB!) posted false rumours about the financial health of a competitor on news groups using a nickname.

Hopefully these issues are properly covered in the current version, but I am sure that we will need to go back and amend the guidelines as the web evolves.

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