Blurry Boundaries in Public Sector Social Media: Defining Clear Interaction Protocols


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We all interact online and with technological devices with rapid and increasing intensity, attracted by convenient and helpful technological tools. Many of us have social media accounts with a variety of companies for our online selves (personal, social, and professional). The open and connected nature of the internet allows us to easily exchange information, yet it also poses challenges with access and control. Employees represent not only their personal and social selves online, but also their professional selves and work for employers who also have these layers of interaction. Protecting our ‘online selves’ requires a great deal of time and attention to managing settings and understanding policies.

Most of us lack the necessary amount of time and attention. In many of these online exchanges data are not willingly shared, but unknowingly surrendered. In an open and connected world where information is readily stored, collected, and disseminated, where do the boundaries exist to protect the key parties involved in these information exchanges? Who sets these boundaries and determines the rules associated with them?

The public sector faces unique challenges with trying to react quickly to constituents yet comply with existing rules and guidelines about reactions and responses. Kristen Walker, a professor of Marketing at California State University Northridge (CSUN) will discuss how data are socially transmitted through every day interactions and explain how this transmission requires new and flexible (macro) interaction protocols to withstand technological innovation in data-driven environments for data-driven decisions. Moderating interactions requires more than trust and transparency and must include education and verification strategies.



  • Kristen Walker: Walker is a professor of marketing at California State University Northridge (CSUN). Her research interests merge public policy, technology and marketing to include interactive marketing, social media, retail environments, brand preference, Big Data, music industry administration and Internet privacy. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA after receiving her master of public administration (specializing in public sector and nonprofit marketing) and a bachelor's in business administration, marketing from CSUN. Her JPPM 2016 paper, “Surrendering Information Through the Looking Glass: Trust, Transparency and Protection” was recognized with the 2018 Thomas Kinnear best paper award. She serves on several editorial review boards including the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing the Journal of Consumer Affairs, and the Journal of Consumer Marketing and co-editing an upcoming JPPM special issue, “Marketing and Public Policy in a Technology-Integrated Society.”