Business should come clean over 'digital dirty laundry'

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Business should come clean over 'digital dirty laundry'

Businesses have been warned to "come clean about the dirty laundry" when staff send ill-judged emails containing offensive material..

"Exposés about a company or person's ethical breaches always get more exposure than the defence," said Dale Klamfoth, vice president and general manager at Communispond.

"The effort to defend may be called 'damage control' or 'crisis management' but often it is more like holding a tiger by the tail."

Bad news travels faster than ever because bloggers pounce on mere hints of misdeeds, according to Klamfoth. Social networks spread the news further, especially if there is video footage.

"People come down hardest on companies or individuals outed for bad behaviour if they have been projecting an aura of integrity," he said.

Klamfoth pointed out that Eliot Spitzer, who resigned recently as governor of New York after his digital money transfers led to a call girl scandal, was an anti-corruption crusader.

A number of fallen evangelists had this experience. "Companies that project a green image would be most criticised if charged with flouting environmental regulations," said Klamfoth.

Reality television's culture of confession has made the public more tolerant of admissions of guilt, Klamfoth believes.

"Employees are sending email messages about creating funny numbers and flouting other regulatory rules," he said.

"Company management, often less savvy about digital footprints than their younger employees, can be unaware of their vulnerability."

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