The Inside the CBC Blog reports on the introduction by Canada’s national broadcaster of two new policies governing use of social media by employees.
“The CBC is directing its journalists to avoid adding sources or contacts as “Facebook friends,” and to not post their political leanings on their profile.
It’s part of a short policy document distributed to CBC journalists surrounding the use of popular social networking site Facebook.com.”
“Any CBC employee who wants to start a personal blog which “clearly associates them with CBC/Radio-Canada” now requires their supervisor’s permission, according to a new policy document.”
According to Inside the CBC, “this rule applies ‘not only to CBC/Radio-Canada journalists but to any corporation employee.’”
Hang on. This sounds a lot like the policy adopted last autumn by Canada’s Armed Forces. That policy states that, “CF MEMBERS ARE TO CONSULT WITH THEIR CHAIN OF COMMAND BEFORE PUBLISHING CF-RELATED INFORMATION AND IMAGERY TO THE INTERNET, REGARDLESS OF HOW INNOCUOUS THE INFORMATION MAY SEEM.”
OK. I can accept that the army might want to go to this extreme. After all, as their policy states, the inadvertent release of sensitive information about operations could put lives at risk: “OPERATIONAL SECURITY IS PARAMOUNT. IT IS INCUMBENT UPON ALL CF MEMBERS TO CONSIDER THE POTENTIAL FOR CREATING RISK TO THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR PEERS, AND THE MISSION BY PUBLISHING INFORMATION TO THE INTERNET. SUCH INFORMATION OR IMAGERY MAY, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER INFORMATION, PROVIDE EXPERT ANALYSTS INSIGHTS INTO CF CURRENT OPERATIONS, EQUIPMENT, CAPABILITIES, TACTICS, AND INTENTIONS, OR MAY PROVIDE INFORMATION THAT PUTS PERSONNEL IN SPECIALIST ROLES OR THEIR FAMILIES AT RISK.”
But what is at stake with the CBC? Not lives. The embarrassment of senior management?
In this case, it looks like the CBC wants to roll the clock back to an earlier era when managers believed they could control communications. (I emphasize “believed,” because communicators know that we’ve never really controlled anything.) It’s incredible to think that an organization that gathers news every day from countless sources – authorized and unauthorized – would believe that a policy like this will achieve anything other than to make them look foolish.
How long will this policy stand before wiser heads retract it?