Welcome to the wild world of social media! The reality is that risk managers will increasingly confront corporate risks arising from employee use of social media and networking tools. To discuss the risks and opportunities flowing from social networking, we must define the phrase. We can begin defining social networking by offering examples: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and MySpace.

We also can refer to social media as the use of technology blended with social interaction to create value. Many people link social networking to Web 2.0. Web 1.0 was essentially a one-way street of users logging onto the Internet and interacting with web pages. By contrast, in Web 2.0, users log onto the Internet and use it as a bridge to interact with other individuals.

Of course, social networking has existed for thousands of years. When my sons were in their teens, I was often reminded of a handy technology that let people communicate in real time: a telephone. Social networking uses the Internet to not only link individuals who are physically separated but also to foster collaboration.

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