What are your colleagues really saying on social media?

It was recently announced that the Swiss bank UBS discovered unauthorised trading by a member of staff in its investment bank, causing losses to the tune of $2.3bn (£1.5bn). The immediate effect of this was felt financially, when shares in the bank plummeted by 8%.

31 year-old Kweku Adoboli was arrested by police in London in the early hours of September 15th on suspicion of fraud by abuse of position. The general feeling following his arrest was wonderment at how on earth a UBS trader could have incurred such massive losses, without either management or colleagues being aware of what was happening.

Cry for help

But what about Adoboli’s Facebook friends? Did they have a clue as to what was going on? Had they read his recent status updates they may certainly have realised he was a man under immense stress, possibly even crying out for help. The last post he made dated September 6th said simply: “Need a miracle”.

It was not the first time Adoboli had openly decided to share his feelings on the social networking site. According to the Financial Times he updated his status on 31st July to read: “Will they? Won’t they? Reduced to watching Fox News for guidance, it’s a grim affair.” Then, when the market fell steeply a short time later, he posted: “Can we shut down global markets for a week so everyone can just chill out?”

Adoboli eventually alerted UBS bosses of the losses himself, further suggesting that nobody had noticed anything before. This does not simply apply to his employers at the bank, whose monitoring system seemingly failed to put a halt to the huge risks being taken, but his colleagues and friends who made up the 420-strong list on his Facebook page.

Increased social networking

In an age where social networking sites are so widely used, it seems a shame that nobody was able to step in and recognise that Adoboli may have been looking for help. His friend list must have followed his posts, and many seemed genuinely concerned after news broke of his arrest, leaving messages of support on his Facebook wall, before his account was shut down.

We all lead busy lives, and it would be unfair to lay blame for Adoboli’s situation at the feet of his Facebook friends and colleagues. However, where we are becoming increasingly educated in protecting ourselves and our information on social networking sites, our friends and colleagues are important too and we should utilise social networking sites to help us look after each other.

If we take the time to recognise any signs that something might be wrong with someone we network with, we might genuinely be able to help them. Sharing something publically on their profile could be your friend’s way of asking you to do just that.

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Bernadette Palmer MA ICM, Dip ICM has been with The Security Company (TSC) for five years as Senior Communications Consultant. Bernadette’s in-depth understanding of the communications environment and the role of security awareness within organisations has been an invaluable asset for TSC in winning business from a wide range of companies. Before working for TSC, Bernadette was the Senior Employee Communications Manager for BT Major Business, BT Business and BT Products and Services; where she managed a team of communication specialists delivering a suite of services to internal clients. Prior to this Bernadette worked as the Security Awareness Manager for BT Security for six years where she gained an invaluable insight into the world of security within organisations.