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Facebook Banned For Half Of UK Employees

According to Commpro.Biz half of all UK employees are banned from using social networking site Facebook, according to a survey from software development firm HCL Technologies.  According to a report in the Telegraph, management fears over corporate reputation are behind the restrictions.

In September last year, senior council officer Rehana Mohamed provoked widespread anger for comments she made about servants on social media site Twitter.  Many CIOs advise a cautious approach to social media.

Clifford Burroughs, CIO at consumer goods company United Biscuits, told Computing last month that he has set up a group within his firm to trial the use of Twitter.   "Social media and collaborative tools are useful to the business, but we're still quite cautious about access to things like Facebook and Twitter. We've set up a super-surfers group, which will be able to access these tools, and we're still trying to contain that until we understand the wider benefits."

Similarly, Adam Gerrard, while working as CIO at car hire firm Avis, agreed that the first priority is to protect the brand reputation.  "A lot of firms are trying to find value in social media, but there is a need to protect the brand, which can prevent full use of this channel. Anything that people say is out there forever," he said in December.

Is Brand Reputation The True Motive?

But it is really about brand reputation?  And is it only in the UK?  Since the UK was the focus of the HCL Technologies survey, the results point to that country, but the same situation regarding Facebook and Social Media likely exists in any country like the US which has Social Media and business.

Although the reason provided is reputation, it most likely is not the true reason Facebook and related social media is banned in many corporations.  The actual reason, if the truth were known, is productivity.  When management investigates how long staff is spending on Facebook and related sites they may be horrified to discover that it can be for extended periods of time, if not for the majority of their work day.

Acceptable Use Policy

As a result, most companies have utilized a wide range of tools to block sites including Facebook, Twitter and related Social Media.  They also often block porn and gambling sites and even some popular shopping sites.  Companies also deal with this issue through Human Resources by requiring employees to sign an Acceptable Use Policy and following up abuses with disciplinary actions.

Many experts believe that the Acceptable Use Policy combined with active monitoring of employee use of Social Media is the better solution with regard to this challenging situation.  Outright banning of Facebook and related sites may only cause additional problems, but it can be better handled with thoughtful management of the issue.

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