Web & communication software

Google+: 5 Legal Issues for Businesses

3. Consider the Potential of Google+

"Right now, there's no search button in Google+, which is a little odd because Google is a search company," Kubicki says. "Once they do have a button, the question becomes, 'What it will be searching?' Will it search what you've posted privately to your circles, or publicly to everyone? And when I search your content, what will it bring up?"

It's important to keep these questions in mind both for your business and your employees, Kubicki says, because you never know how your information will be used in the future.

"AdWords 'reads' your Gmail and analyzes the language, so you could imagine it could also read dialogue in your Google+ Circles," he says. "How comfortable are you that Google has access to your private conversations and uses that information for advertising? That brings up privacy issues."

Google+: 5 Legal Issues for Businesses
4. Google+ Activity is Discoverable in Litigation

"Many people think that just because Google+ is a new social network, it's out of the scope of discoverable information in litigation," Kubicki says. "But that's not the case."

He says that all social media is considered electronically stored information, regardless of how old or new the service is, and thus falls within the scope of potentially relevant information. Therefore should a lawsuit arise, an employee's Google+ information could be admitted as evidence in civil litigation.

Since companies are required by law to preserve any potentially relevant data that is reasonably accessible, there could be scenarios where the company may be required to capture and preserve this data itself. Kubicki says that they're already seeing this within the financial services industry, "where this obligation is born out of regulatory compliance needs."

[5 Google+ Tips for Advanced Users]

Google+: 5 Legal Issues for Businesses
5. Don't Discount Google+ Yet Because of Privacy and Security Concerns

Kubicki is quick to point out, though, that privacy or security concerns shouldn't prompt businesses to block Google+ just yet. It's important that employees "find a personal comfort level because the only way they're going to learn and the only way Google+ will get better is by people using it," he says. "You don't want people being too careful--wade in, don't jump in."

Kubicki also says that Google+ appears to be as safe as any other major platform, though he acknowledges that there will likely be glitches and patches in the future. But between a solid social media policy and proper employee training, he says, businesses should be able to navigate the growing popularity of Google+ smoothly.

Kristin Burnham covers consumer technology, social networking and Web 2.0 for CIO.com. Follow Kristin on Twitter @kmburnham. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Kristin at kburnham@cio.com

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