Stuff On My Cat is an interesting organisation to analyse with respect to Enterprise 2.0 because by its very nature, it is based on Enterprise 2.0 technologies. Essentially, registered members send in supposedly funny cat pictures which SOMC then displays on its website and uses in products on their web store (such as T-shirts and mugs). Considering this business model, it’s not surprising to find that SOMC has to address some of the risks that come with using E2 technologies.

For starters, SOMC stores information about its registered members. Although this data may not be considered as sensitive as, for example, financial information, it still has a responsibility to those member to keep this information private. Should this information be compromised (by SOMC itself or hackers, etc), members could bring action against SOMC or just terminate their account. Since SOMC relies on member submissions, loss of members is a serious concern.

Another key legal issue is that of copyright – the ‘product’ SOMC sells is content created by its members, which brings into question the ownership of and right to use that content. SOMC has addressed this by including in the content submission process an agreement that it can use the submitted content essentially in any way it pleases. It’s likely that a large number of users would simply agree to the waiver without reading it fully but I don’t see how that would cause a big problem for SOMC.

Registered members can also caption each other’s photos and vote for their favourite caption for a photo and this could lead to claims of discrimination. It’s possible that members may feel their caption was ignored or passed over on the grounds of favouritism. It’s also possible that such a member may become disgruntled and start spreading defamatory material about SOMC on SOMC’s site and others. Again, since members and their contributions are so critical to SOMC’s business model and success, this could have a very damaging effect. As far as I can see SOMC hasn’t taken any action to prevent this apart from allowing people to report inappropriate behaviour and content.

One of the dangers of relying on user submissions is that some people opt to submit inappropriate and offensive material, both of which could give SOMC a bad reputation and turn members away. It is hard to tell whether SOMC staff moderate submissions before they are posted, although the ‘FAQ’ section dealing with why submitted photos take a while to appear on the site indicates that the submission process isn’t automated and there is some processing involved with the procedure. Also, the consistent lack of extremely offensive photos appearing on the site suggests that SOMC staff exercise some degree of network monitoring by either preventing those images appearing and/or removing them after the fact.

Actually, it seems that SOMC have taken very little mitigating action to deal with legal risks. Where other organisations require members to agree to terms and conditions on sign up, SOMC has nothing and the only contract users of the site have to enter into is the aforementioned submission waiver. Although the members of the SOMC network could perhaps be called ‘staff’ as well as ‘consumers’ because they contribute the majority of the content, there appears to be no agreed upon policy of use for them to abide by. The submission agreement clearly states that the author of the content is responsible for it but does not lay out any consequences for breaching that responsibility.

Overall, SOMC is a curious case because it is so clearly an Enterprise 2.0 company but apparently lacks any specifically stated policy of use and guidelines to govern its members and direct them through the minefield of existing in a social media space.


One Response to “”

  1. Hisham Beshayer Says:

    Hey, interesting blog post. I thought it was interesting you used a website like SOMC for your analysis. Very original.. Youtube, which is similar to SOMC in terms of the sharing of user content, seem to be facing a lot of the problems that you have inferred SOMC might face. I think it is safe to say your analysis is quite accurate, don’t you think?

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