Author – Galina Datskovsky

On December 10, 2016, two articles in the business section of the Wall Street Journal caught my eye.

The first article concerned well known Facebook in an article named “Facebook Investors Press Suit On Shares”. It is of particular interest, in that it suggests that “Facebook Inc’s move to change its capital structure was tainted by secret text messages and meddling from financial advisers that pointed to a process rife with conflict of interest…”.

Yet again we see written communication being used in evidence. Of course, if these were simply phone calls or conversations, there would be no record to produce. Don’t get me wrong – I do not in any way suggest that one side is right and the other wrong here. I do however suggest that technology giants such as Facebook and their boards should certainly be aware of the implication of written records and communications.

What this article also highlights is that the age of email is over – conversation is moving from email to text and organizations can no longer ignore how their employees are communicating confidential business information.

The second article covered a well-known auto manufacturer and was entitled “FTC Claims VW Mobile Phones Missing”. In the case of VW, the FTC is concerned with 23 lost or ‘bricked’ phones of key employees in the wake of a decade-long emissions-cheating scandal. Once again, these phones contain email, text and other data that can be relevant to the case but can now no longer be retrieved.

So, what is the lesson for 2017? Some should look familiar…

1. If you don’t want it on the 6 o’clock news, or in social media news feeds, do not write it in email, text that lingers or any other way
2. If you want to have a private conversation and you have no obligation to keep a record, use face to face, phone or ephemeral channels
3. Keep a record when it’s needed in a very secure location
4. Never destroy evidence, adverse instructions have really bad outcomes
5. Text is becoming the de-facto communication standard and will be examined more closely in 2017, so plan now.