Privacy is a lost concept in today’s world. The vast array of “look at me now” options that are popping up are giving us all a taste for increasingly unfiltered immediacy and we are not giving a thought to the dangers of oversharing. Are you clear on these dangers? You need to be.

The Threat

It all began with Snapchat and the live-stream video apps such as Periscope, Meerkat, and especially YouNow which has emerged as an “in your face” favorite. We’ve become used to using these apps to live-stream every aspect of our lives, including – for two Utah teens – stealing from an ice cream truck.

This world of unfiltered immediacy should be as much of a concern to CEOs as it is to parents. And it should concern your employees too . . . so why doesn’t it?

Users of apps like Snapchat are under the illusion that the images disappear. But data is data and it can all be recovered, and screenshots are a definite “gotcha” regardless. Automatic deletion of images and text on many of these sites give a dangerously false sense of security. And did you know there is an entire industry out there making their living recovering “deleted” Snapchat photos? It’s disturbing if you stop and think about it.

But what can you do – tell your employee not to use it? Yes!

Less Threatening Options

Just as parents need to take an active role in encouraging their kids to use less immediate, less anonymous options, businesses do as well. And yes, they exist. Take Capshare for example – this app allows users to create interactive movies using their videos, pictures, text, music, etc. Since it encourages editing to create the final product before it’s posted, it does not have the creepy “watch me sleep” vibe of YouNow and others.

You want to be on the look out for apps that take away a bit of the immediacy that leads impulsive persons down the path of poor decision-making. Those few extra minutes could mean the difference between posting a provocative selfie versus a simple pouty face. It matters.

Short of applying a Buffer-type filter to all of your employee’s social posts (not that you could do this if you wanted to though!), the best option you have is understanding the landscape and having protocols in place around online appropriateness, as it relates to your company, and clear consequences when these guidelines aren’t followed.

Understand It Now Or Clean It Up Later

Beyond your role as business leader, it helps to be conversant in apps subject to a “shoot upon sight” order by parents. Why? Much like your children, when your employees know that you’re active online, it will help those overly active social employees reconsider posting “anonymously” on these sites. Yes, it’s a psychological play. Here are a few to be aware of:

· Burn Note – a text-only messaging app that promises complete destruction of the message. This illusion of safety may tempt folks to reveal too much. An additional danger is that anyone can receive a Burn Note, you don’t have to have the app to be pulled in.

· Whisper – encourages users to post their deepest, darkest thoughts (and many of them are very dark). The level of inappropriate content on the site is high and it is a frequent trolling ground for those sharing company secrets or seeking sex.

· Chatroulette – a chat website that pairs random users for web-cam conversations. Want to see what it’s like without trying it? This hilarious parody of Call Me Maybe gives a glimpse!

We live in a dangerous digital world of immediate gratification and faux anonymity, and too many of us lack any sense of privacy and little concept of oversharing. It is the job of parents – and CEOs – to be vigilant – and nosey. Your brand is at stake, after all. Pay attention to what is out there, a simple google search can give you a whole new list of dangerous sites and apps. Be aware of the new ones that are popping up and be sure they know that YOU know about them. It’s honestly the best deterrent.

And that social media policy you had them sign should help too, of course! If you don’t have one, reach out and I’ll send a template to guide your efforts.

Image by Pasko Tomic