If I've said it once in the past three days, I've probably said it 12 times: I am amazed at how many people don't seem to realize their online activity, their mobile phone calls, and their text messages leave footprints.
As the Tiger Woods scandal illustrates, text messages and voice messages don't disappear into cyberspace when you hit the "send" button. They are stored. They may seem private and safe from curious eyes when you're sending or receiving them, but they never stay that way. So if you're doing or saying something you shouldn't be, those texts will come back to bite you.
A New York Times article published Tuesday uses the Woods scandal and others like it to illustrate the fact that text messaging is quickly eclipsing phone calls as the most common means of communication. The story cites Nielsen research indicating that text messages now outnumber mobile phone calls three to one.
Texting may never be preferred over e-mail or instant messaging in a business environment, but chances are texts are used more frequently in business today than they once were. And just like personal text messages leave a trail that can prove wrongdoing in one's personal life, text messages sent to business partners, bosses, coworkes and even competitors may come back to hurt your career or your company.
In fact, if your company hasn't already done so, it may be time to make sure your mobile device policies include text messaging dos and don'ts that will minimize the company's risk. Or maybe you'll decide to do away with separate policies for Web use, e-mail, and texting and instead develop a broad digital communications policy that encompasses all three. Either way, the questions to consider are similar to those that arise with business use of social networking and blogs or even e-mail.
Like social-networking policies, texting policies will more than likely vary depending on a company's business, but at a minimum you want to make sure that harassment and discrimination are prohibited and that confidential company information is protected.