BUSINESS and employees need to remember that what they say online in any format carries at least the same risks as what they say in the real world of letters and circulars.

Employers in a regulated environment, such as financial services businesses, will be recording everything that is said in instant messages, emails and calls, and staff need to understand that they are regulated online and offline.

Financial services companies should be making sure that staff don’t use their company name in any postings unless approved, and if they are well-known for working for a particular employer, even commenting in their own name and in their own time might not help.

The danger of saying unguarded things on Twitter is that it can be retweeted many times, including by people you don’t know. And because the provider of the social media platform doesn’t control everything its users write, it’s very hard to get them to remove damaging comments, and certainly not quickly.

Finally, simply saying something in an internal communication doesn’t mean it won’t spread to outside of the organisation – we have seen many examples of people sharing messages, because they find them funny with friends, and the message then goes viral.