Netbox Blue has introduced software that screens an organisation's Web 2.0 communications for messages that could damage its brand.
Targeted at businesses with online reputation concerns, the SafeChat software scans network traffic for tweets, status updates and chat messages containing specific keywords.
Communications are identified and converted to a common format, allowing any policy breaches to be blocked, logged and stored. The organisation is notified of the occurrence and nature of each breach.
SafeChat may also be installed on any desktop and notebook owned by the organisation to screen communications that take place outside of the office.
Netbox Blue chairman John Fison acknowledged that the tool may spark privacy concerns, recommending that customers chart employment contracts with provisions for monitoring communications.
Currently, there is no general constitutional right to privacy in Australia. And although the Office of the Privacy Commissioner notes "many enquiries regarding the privacy of workplace e-mail and web-browsing activities", the onus is on organisations to educate staff on their policies.
Fison described social networks as the "virtual toilet walls of the modern world" where employees could air their grievances.
He expects corporate uptake of SafeChat to be high, also noting discussions with schools, government agencies and not-for-profits such as the Cerebral Palsy League.
Already, SafeChat has been deployed on 2,000 notebook computers at Queensland's John Paul College, where it was used to control cyber-bullying.
"We've been doing this with e-mail for years," Fison told iTnews, referring to the vendor's cornerstone internet and e-mail filtering and management appliance.
"What really drove the development of this product was organisations saying that people were using e-mail less and these social networking communications more."
SafeChat currently supports Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Gmail, MSN, Jabber and Yahoo, and will be dynamically updated to add any new social networks. It does not require the cooperation of these sites to function.