Event recap: Social Media and Privacy forum

 Friday 3rd March, 2017

The Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) held its second lunchtime privacy forum on Friday 10th February 2017 – Social Media and Privacy: A Positive Sum Game. The forum attracted approximately 140 attendees in person, with an additional 45 streaming the event online via Periscope.

CPDP invited four guest speakers to participate in a panel discussion. The speakers were:

• Elisa Hesling – Senior Associate, FOI Solutions

• Tom Sulston – Principal Consultant, ThoughtWorks

• Jacqueline Parker – Assistant Victorian Government Solicitor, Workplace Relations & Occupational Safety, Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office

• Mia Garlick – Director of Policy for Australia & New Zealand/APAC Regional Coordinator, Facebook

Social media has fast become a popular tool for communicating and disseminating information, but uptake across the public sector has been met with some caution. The intention of the forum was to explore how the Victorian public sector can engage with law and technology to find a way to use social media while respecting the privacy of its users and those with whom it engages online.

The four panellists each spoke for five minutes on their respective areas of expertise, and then a Q&A session followed. The broad themes discussed by the panellists include:

• the practical considerations for organisations wanting to use social media, such as the risks involved and how they can be managed

• the responsibilities that employers have when using social media, particularly in respect of ‘profiling’ employees

• the rights and responsibilities of employees when using social media in both a personal and professional capacity

• understanding the technologies and platforms that facilitate social media, and how they can be configured to be privacy-enhancing

• understanding the relevant legislation in Victoria that should be taken into account when setting up and using social media for business purposes.

One of the themes that generated interest from the audience was the use of social media by employers to ‘profile’ prospective candidates during the recruitment process. Profiling may be an attractive option for employers that want to make sure they are hiring the right people for the job, however this practice can raise a number of privacy issues, such as the potential inaccuracy of the information posted to social media sites, and the intrusive nature of profiling. The panellists distinguished between seeking out information that was publicly available online and that which was protected by advanced security settings, and warned against circumventing security settings to obtain information.

If you missed the forum you can watch it online via CPDP’s Periscope channel.

CPDP has also compiled a set of FAQs for the Victorian public sector, responding to the common questions that the office receives in relation to using social media.