Experts warn of social networks’ potential to ruin firms’ reputation

Social network platforms have the capability to harm companies’ reputation, an online strategies expert has warned.Josef Barth, who managed incumbent president Heinz Fischer’s 2010 election campaign’s internet activities, said today (Thurs) firms should not remove unpleasant postings but honestly respond to accusations they contained.Barth, a former journalist for political weekly profil, stressed this was the only way to face negative comments on social network platforms such as Facebook.Julia Wippersberg of Vienna University’s politics and communication sciences department made aware of the various ways a registration on a website like Xing, Twitter and Facebook can gain momentum since many “fans” and “followers” might not represent views a company agreed with.She however also stressed a total withdrawal from being active on social network homepages could harm firms’ images too since Facebook has occasionally registered more search requests than market-leading internet search engine Google.These warnings come as an increasing number of schools in Austria block their students from accessing Facebook, MySpace and similar pages from their computers.Head teachers argued they made this decision over statistics showing that around 150,000 teenagers in the country have become victims of cyber mobbing.Social Democratic (SPÖ) Education Minister Claudia Schmied backed schools’ efforts to block access to social network sites by providing a special software programme.An overall 1.3 million Austrians frequently update their profiles on Facebook, while a further 700,000 have got accounts but hardly ever use them.