Geri Stengel

 
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Wikileaks Raises Questions For Nonprofits, Small Businesses

The Wikileaks controversy no longer is just about state secrets. It now involves Twitter, Google and Facebook as well as internet freedom, and limits on journalism. Anyone who uses social media or email should be concerned.

I certainly am.

social media privacy, internet security, content ownership, free speech, net neutralityTo be clear: I'm no fan of Julian Assange. He's an irresponsible megalomaniac but the reactions to his actions have raised questions that affect us all, including businesses and nonprofits.

We need to talk.

  • Is a Facebook conversation about Wikileaks enough to bar you from a state department job in the future? According to the Huffington Post, Columbia students were warned it might be. What does that do to the free exchange of information on social media?
  • Is it right for Mastercard, PayPal, and Amazon to cut off access to financial services if they disagree with an organization's views? What if they decide they don't like pro-choice organizations or social enterprises that give condoms to third-world women?
  • Globalization brings citizens of many countries into conversations and collaborative undertakings. How will we monitor our partners? Which laws will we follow? Can we converse or advocate at all if governments can bring charges outside their borders?
  •  Who makes the rules about access to these online financial services and internet presence? Have these online services become public utilities or are they merely private corporations with the right to refuse service if you don't follow their dress code? It's an internet world, based on the ability to conduct transactions online. Facebook Causes and Donate-Now buttons are essential to nonprofits.

These questions loom large when talking about net neutrality, globalization, and collaborative conversations, which are the core of social media and are becoming ever-more central to the survival and growth of small businesses and nonprofits.

We need to talk, about the lessons learned:

  • It's the 21st century. If your organization transfers confidential information, whether client records, human resource information, or contingency plans, you'd best be sure that your security system is hack-proof and access is controlled.
  • Policies and procedures must be in place to ensure that security isn't breached. Does your staff know that jokes, unofficial references to clients or donors, and complaints about internal problems are virtually immortal on the internet? 

We need to talk about free press, free speech, access to internet services, speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves, and the kind of civil discourse that brings change to the world.

What do you think the implications of Wikileaks are for small businesses and nonprofits?

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