Social Media Monitoring: Friend or Foe?

by Elizabeth Kennedy on Mar 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Social_Media_Monitoring_blog.jpgSocial media is the way of life in our current culture. Most of us regularly use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. But what most regular social media users don’t realize is that everything posted on social media is visible to anyone with the right tools. For organizations concerned with security, this freely available information is worth pursuing. If used in conjunction with surveillance systems, social media monitoring could alert security teams to potential threats and provide insights into security system design needs.

Social media monitoring is a Jack of all trades

Leveraging social media keywords for marketing purposes is nothing new. Marketers have been taking advantage of this technology to target audiences regularly. More recently, software has been developed to address security concerns using the publicly available information on social media. School officials are able to search for potentially threatening messages on students’ social media accounts. In our previous post, Five Points of Inspection for Higher Education Security, we briefly outlined social media’s new and significant role in campus security. However, social media monitoring is not limited in scope to the education sector; users across a wide array of industries have found success using social media monitoring.

Some experts go so far as to say that social media monitoring has become a necessary security tool. Since introducing location filters for social media monitoring, the applications for this product have become endless. Almost any industry has a use for social media monitoring from retail to the energy industry. Take for example loss prevention at a warehouse. Thieves often post on social media the items they have stolen. A company using social media monitoring can search for a keyword in a specific area to narrow down results and eventually catch the culprit. Used in conjunction with surveillance cameras to verify criminals, social media monitoring provides evidence to convict these thieves.

Some applications of location-based social media monitoring involve the prevention of tragic events while others involve accumulation of information in an area. For example, an energy company that lays a pipeline through a small town or rural area can observe a specific location with social media monitoring. This becomes useful when energy companies want to know sentiments surrounding the laying of the pipeline, the opinions of the community, and potential threats to the project plans. The company then knows who and what to be aware of and can integrate this into accurately predicting which security components are needed at the site. This practical application of location-based social media monitoring is not solely for protection, but the information gleaned can be converted to improved site protection and incident prevention. 

A potential threat to privacy

Although social media monitoring offers far-reaching benefits, there are some who still cry “invasion of privacy” at the idea of an organization monitoring what is posted on social media. There is still a gray area regarding the monitoring of information on social media, making it unclear whether organizations using social media monitoring are within their rights.

Since location based social media monitoring is such a new technology, laws are still evolving around its use. However, many in the education sector assert that the protection of students and staff takes precedence over privacy concerns because of proof of efficacy. One school official recounted an instance where social media monitoring revealed a student tweeting from the school’s gym that she wanted to kill herself. Because of the location-based social media monitoring, officials were able to locate the girl before she caused harm to herself.

As long as organizations are considerate of user privacy and utilize social media monitoring as intended, the use of this new technology will continue to expand without legislative bar.

Social media monitoring and electronic security

In a security industry that has long since merged information technology and electronic security, social media monitoring sits at the center of this intersection. The evolution of social media monitoring has allowed the technology to provide more detail than ever before, aiding companies in preventing threats from coming to fruition. Social media monitoring can answer the "why" behind threats and provide insights for future security plan designs. Integrating social media monitoring with electronic security will yield more productive and preventative security procedures overall.

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This post was written by Elizabeth Kennedy

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