Attendees to the PCI Community Meeting in Vegas two weeks ago were treated to an interesting warning at the opening of the session. No social media or blogging during the meetings. I know that I picked up on it more than anyone else as I tweet and blog just a little.

It didn’t take long for attendees to be warned about its use. During Bob’s opening remarks, he cautioned users not to tweet or live blog the events.

The two-part irony behind the situation is that members of the press were welcomed into the meetings this year, and three of the five founding members of the council have embraced Twitter.

it was a secret!, by platinumblondelife

it was a secret!, by platinumblondelife

The Council handled this situation poorly. Social media is a part of our lives, and those that try to control it will find it controlling them. Here’s what the Council SHOULD have done, and I hope they do in Prague.

There are obvious things that should not be disclosed in social media. Confidential information, for example, should remain that way. While the Council is well intentioned in trying to ban social media to control the flow of confidential information, they send the wrong message by banning it.

Instead, the Council should have talked to all attendees at registration about social media, and their goals for allowing the right information to flow freely. They should lay a set of ground rules, and punish those who violate them. Here’s a suggested set of ground rules with an example of a rule violation where applicable:

  • Do not use attendee’s names or affiliation (Jim from Dunder Mifflin asked about camera coverage in their card storage area).
  • Do not disclose information that could be deemed confidential (James’s Jerky Joint just told the Birds of a Feather group that they found two million track 2 records!).
  • Do not post pictures of delegates or the conference without permission (And here we see a photo of Russo impersonating an Elvis impersonator).

Outside of those ground rules, delegates should feel free to discuss items heard about on-stage unless they are noted as confidential. The Council and payment brands cannot reasonably expect that anything they say up there will remain confidential with more than 700 delegates in attendance, including press.

Any person violating the rules should be excused from the conference. It’s as simple as that. I would have gladly signed an agreement on the spot to be able to document and share the event with those that could not attend.

Groups that embrace social media will reap the rewards of their group of followers. It does come with a price—accountability. Maybe that speaks to a larger corporate problem?

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