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A new study ties Facebook and, by proxy, social networks in general to increased divorce rates. While the write-up goes to a great deal of trouble to suggest that further work will be needed to prove that Facebook causes divorce, the report presents pretty damning evidence.
I bring this up because the same proof points that make Facebook and other social networks a potential cause for divorce appear to apply to employee loyalty as well. Employees who use social networks heavily should therefore be far more likely to depart or share confidential information without approval than those who don't. We seem to be ignoring the risks that social networks represent. Perhaps it's time to revisit them.
Facebook Use a Cause or Effect of Divorce (Or Both)
The study was commissioned after anecdotal information from divorce attorneys showcased a reasonable expectation of causality. In other words: Since Facebook's launch, the divorce rate has increased, and Facebook has become a far more common source for evidence of cheating in divorce trials.
The study looked at the information underlying the supposition. It found a positive correlation but couldn't conclude whether Facebook use was the cause or the effect of a process leading to divorce. In fact, a strong argument was made that it actually could be both. You can conclude from the study that if you and/or your spouse use Facebook, the probability of divorce increases significantly.
Several foundational elements lie underneath this. Social networks make people more visible to others looking for a relationship, enable interaction that can lead to cheating and, due to their insecurity, make discovery of cheating both easy and inexpensive. Social networks also create a support structure of friends and supporters that can make divorce far less painful.
Facebook and Disloyal Employees
At the core of the study is the connection of Facebook to a set of behaviors that are counter to any personal relationship. This seems to translate to work even better than it does to marriage. In work, recruiters and headhunters actively try to pull high-value employees from their current companies. If those recruiters can now more easily find people on LinkedIn or Facebook who meet their needs, and find intimate details about them, they can make their pitches far more compelling.
When I was a headhunter, finding out where in a company to find the skill set you needed, let alone the name of the person to pitch, meant penetrating the firms' security. The tricks we used would make a spy proud. With this information readily available on a social network, that process should be drop-dead simple today.
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