Many Facebook users were today surprised to log-in and discover that their groups membership had suddenly ballooned to include both groups they’d left a long time ago – and groups they’d never joined. I was one of the many who then proceeded to manually remove each one by clicking ‘leave group’ – annoying, but hardly a disaster. Just another momentary Facebook glitch…
After all, it’s a known fact that Facebook engineers prioritise rapid development and roll-out of new features, as well as quick performance of the site, over extensive bug testing (which would slow the whole development process down). This is hardly a surprise – when people are using a service which is free, they’re slightly more tolerant of bugs than if they were paying for it.
However, for small business owners who might be using the social network for work purposes – and in particular for internal employee communication using the groups feature – this episode is a further warning of the dangers of doing so.
Since Facebook is both free to use – and used by pretty much everybody (ok, that’s an exaggeration - but not that much of one) – it often represents an attractive communications solution for smaller companies put off by the long-term investment of having personalised networks built for this purpose.
In short, for the small business owner every pound or dollar counts – and this is often an area where it’s attractive to go for the free option instead of the paid-for one. However, the security concern with using something like Facebook for this purpose will never go away – and could be problematic when glitches like this one, or general outages, crop up.
So while it’s hardly disastrous that today I found myself a member of various weird and wonderful groups I’ve never joined – it would be much more of an issue for a small business owner finding his employee-only Facebook group was suddenly an open public one and had amassed a raft of new members.
Of course, for some businesses this won’t be a massive issue. A glitch every now and again will be a minor and passing inconvenience and of no long term consequence. But for others, these types of glitches could represent serious breaches of confidentiality or privacy about internal decision making, client information, financial affairs and so on. These kinds of breaches represent serious set-backs and do cost money.
So, if you’re running a small business which makes some use of social media for purposes of internal communications, this latest Facebook glitch is a good example of the kind of decision which you need to make: if affected by such an error – what would the consequence be for my business? If the answer is too awful to contemplate, it might be worth thinking about a personalised enterprise social network.