Fun With Statistics: How Many Companies Are Blocking Facebook?

from the depends-on-who-asks dept

Consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas has come out with a study this week claiming that nearly one in four companies blocks employee access to social networks like Facebook and MySpace. It’s a good story, which is why you see various news organizations picking up the story and running with it. Of course, if this sounds kind of familiar, that’s because less than a year ago, some other company (this time it was a security company) came out with a report claiming that half of all businesses were blocking Facebook. Now, if you assume that both reports are true, then that would suggest that fewer firms are blocking Facebook than were last summer. Of course, chances are neither report is all that accurate. And, to be fair, the “headline” from the press on the second story was inaccurate: the actual study suggested that nearly half of all employees were banned from accessing Facebook. In theory, that could be true if a few large companies banned their employees from using the site. Either way, there are companies who probably ban Facebook at work — just like in the early days of the telephone there were those that banned telephones at work, and, more recently there were companies that banned email or the internet at work. Eventually, companies recognize that fearing communication tools tends to backfire. Embracing them tends to be a lot more productive.

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Comments on “Fun With Statistics: How Many Companies Are Blocking Facebook?”

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36 Comments
Govy (user link) says:

I imagine it's probably true

Working for the Government, I can tell you that there’s a lot of organizations/departments that block Facebook, MySpace, and many other social media and social networking websites. Part of it stems from reports that were done on how many employees access sites that are considered “inappropriate.” The other part is that it’s considered a waste of time and there’s no real value. Obviously most of know this not to be true. Granted, there are many people that try to access offensive websites from work and those people should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Instead the “easy” answer has been to simply block everything that’s offensive, but anything that is even close to being offensive (that includes Facebook, MySpace, and even Scribd…of all things).

But while there’s always going to people abusing their access rights at work, social media/networking sites have very big communication benefits if used appropriately. Additionally, by blocking sites, that just opens up that organization to even more security problems. If someone wants access to Facebook, or YouTube, they’re going to find a way to get it. That could mean going through a proxy, tricking the filters, etc. So, in a sense, you’ll have people working around filters to get access to sites for legitimate reasons. But if those organizations would allow access, but through the regular security controls for other sites, then they could allow the employees to access the sites that they need to, but while doing it through a more secured channel rather than having people circumvent the system.

PaulT (profile) says:

Mine does... sort of

Facebook is “blocked” at my place of work. I say “blocked” because like most of these systems, it’s easily circumvented through use of a proxy so I have no problem slacking off. I actually taught myself a decent amount about VPNs when looking for a better workaround to sites blocked at work, so it was even educational. Thanks, ineffective and pointless content restriction!

TX CHL Instructor (profile) says:

The bank where I used to work...

The large, multinational bank where I used to work had the most strict restrictions on internet use I have ever seen. Among other things, any site associated with porn, guns, political commentary, social networking, job search, or streaming video of any kind was filtered out. I’m not 100% sure, but I think some religious sites where blocked. Occasionally, I would trip the filters without knowing why the site was banned, but that pretty much stopped happening after I downloaded one of the available HOSTS files that vectors most adware sites to localhost. I’m certain that at least part of the process was done by a live person reviewing sites that were visited by employees; my own site (www.chl-tx.com) was accessible for a couple of weeks after the first time I accessed it from work before the filters started blocking it. The site has been there for years; I brought it up just to see if the filters would catch it about a month before I quit. It was blocked by the time I left the bank.

There was another place I worked a few years ago that had much more reasonable access restrictions. You couldn’t get to known porn sites any time, but you could access streaming media, ebay, social networking sites, and the like, but not from 8am-noon or 1pm-5pm.

Mike B (user link) says:

bandwidth

We actually started blocking myspace and youtube due to the amount of bandwidth they suck up. Facebook may end up on the list soon as well. I’m not here to be your internet police, but I do need the bandwidth available for everyone else in the office to use for legit business purposes, NOT for streaming stupid videos.

Also, I would say most companies don’t actually have a need to access these sites anyway, other than specific CSR’s who deal in new media communications. Since most of our clientele is OLD, it’ snot much of an issue really.

Adelaine (user link) says:

Catch 22 situation

This is quite tricky per se, as some industries require customer-employee interactivity regardless of which modes its done through, hence they turn to FB, and other avenues. Blocking it hinders communication and yet on the other hand, it definately improves productivity.
It would be fair to note that there are employees who are great at time management, and are capable of allocating the time they spend here, there and even on FB – however there are also those that just get attached to these social networking sites for hours at end. Obvious inefficieny, i’d point out.

thecaptain says:

My company blocks facebook, but also blocks any and all sites that fall into the category of “social networking”

Not that its a big deal for me, but I fail to see the rationale. It’s a semi automatic system and sites are “reviewed” by committee. Some sites (such as any video game site) are blocked as “time wasters”, but other “not necessary for work” sites (such as NFL.com, fantasy sport sites) are allowed.

Unfortunately, our network guys are quite savy and proxies and anonymizers are also blocked 🙂 So there’s very little that can be done to get around it.

Summer Hire says:

I’m a summer hire for the government. Mostly since I have no clearance I’m stuck roaming the halls looking for work that they can let me do or surfing through the allowed sites. So far I’ve seen that if you block sites atleast one person will waste time to get around it and share it with their friends. So really all you have done is made sure the people that can use them resposibly don’t use them and those that can’t do use them or bring something to keep them from work.

As for needing them at work, my mother, a worker at DHR, uses facebook to help collect evidence of sexual abuse cases. I even hear some companies look through those pages to check out who they are hiring. Lets face it if you are stupid enough to post illegal/questionable actions on the web for everyone to see with your name on there you shouldn’t be hired by a company.

Buzz says:

Heh

What kind of people are you hiring to where they do nothing but sit on Facebook all day? Maybe the job has a terrible environment to where Facebook is the employees’ only escape. Toss two of your scrub employees and combine those salaries into paying one specialist! I just have to laugh at any company who goes to so much effort to block these sites all while operating a business that harbors this kind of behavior. Time for a change in management, perhaps?

I am studying as a computer science major at a university, and I think I am going to work in web development. I have a Facebook account; I will not work at a place that has a huge filter on my Internet access (except for pornography). I am responsible enough to restrict my usage while at work, but if any employer dares accuse me of wasting time on the clock, I’ll just send him/her a bill for all the time I used OFF the clock.

In short, you have BIGGER problems if you find yourself blocking Facebook hoping to increase productivity.

Mel says:

Do business networking not social networking

Your employer is paying you to work. If you have a lot of free time, use it to gain more knowledge about your work or expand your skills or network inside the company. This will help you. Chatting with friends or otherwise wasting your time on social networking sites is stupid. I agree with the poster which said the sense of entitlement is amazing. If you value social networking more than work, stay home.

Abdul says:

Suffering From SNAD!!

Companies are meant to be productive and it seems employees are getting caught up with this social media craze that productivity at the workplace is declining. Why par thounsands of bucks to people who could spend an eitir workday on sites like facebook?Suffering From Social Networking Anxiety Disorder (SNAD)(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=466&doc_id=154710&F_src=flftwo)

Clair (user link) says:

What do companies value? It depends on how they communicate with their clients, etc.

If they would ban access to a lot of sites, might as well limit access to the Intranet only. In any case, if there are companies who do ban social networking sites, etc. during certain hours and still allow their employees to access them at certain times, I suppose that’s one compromise between the workplace and the staff in question.

Does that sound like employees have a big sense of entitlement? Maybe. But a fun and happy workplace keeps people in the company, especially for free spirited types who don’t want bosses breathing down their necks during crunch times.

Darren says:

Our company had the bright idea of blocking amazon.com, so I started buying supplies locally – they started wondering why expenses were so high. I just said “you were the idiots that blocked amazon.com” They opened it faster then I could blink! Companies that block legitimate site (not including porn and gaming sites) are risking low company moral and with the Unemployment rate as low as it is (especially up here in Canada) if we don’t like Company A because they blocked a site, we cross the street to company B! It’s all about keeping your employees happy, satisfied so they stay and do their job!

Anonymous Coward says:

Our company had a big loss of productivity when MySpace got ‘popular’ with the employees. As a reminder to focus on their jobs (they don’t need MySpace to for business needs) we blocked it. Sure there is a bunch of ways to get around it, but it helped break the cycle.

It happened again with eBay, we blocked that too.

After a year those are the only two.

We do have a problem with streaming media on our Terminal Servers slowing everything down… but a bit of user education has them self-policing themselves (a quick demo of how much one streaming video can slow things down does wonders).

We do have a problem with Streaming Media on our Terminal Servers slowing everything down… but a bit of user educataion has them self policing themselves (a quick demo of how much one streaming video can slow things down does wonders).

Jim says:

to all you guys in favor of blocking facebook and all the bs about work ethics … listen up … i have a stressful job, i’m underpaid and i happend to need an occasional break at work – including the lunches through which i work, most of the time. I don’t really give a crap about my employer and their team work or maximizing this or minimizing that or x dollars wasted time. I work because just like everybody else i need to pay my mortgage, but believe me that if I ever came into some money, I would never ever work again – unless i took on a hobby and transformed it into a living. I do my job and i don’t agree that being chained to a desk from 9-5 means that I will actually work if i don’t feel like working. Facebook blocked? No problem – I will waste my time reading the news, going on ebay, paying bills etc etc. So really, what is the point? Just let me have my facebook for 5 min 3 times a day and I will be a much happier worker.

blocked at a library is just stupid says:

i can understand why schools and workplaces block myspace youtube and facebook but why at a library?? if someone doesnt have access to a computer anywhere else besides a library and they wanna check their myspace or facebook then so be it.. i mean there is a time limit that you cant be on longer for an hour sooo why does it matter if the person is on facebook…..

Rodney Payne (user link) says:

20th Century thinking..

Requiring employees to sit at a desk between set hours is very old-world thinking. It’s analogous to having to punch a time-card to clock in and out of the factory. Smart employers, who want to attract the best employees, will simply manage people more cleverly. Give people access to everything but give them set goals to achieve. Reward them for achieving these goals and even more for exceeding them. If they want to update their facebook status, send out a tweet or two or watch a video on youtube… if you’re smashing the clearly set objectives, does that have any negative impact on performance?

kelly monroe (user link) says:

To Block or Not...

As an IT consultant I am fully aware that IT management is struggling with whether social media is productive or obstructive for companies and their employees. Software is being developed and policy and restrictions are being decided everyday by IT managers. The security of company networks are at stake but the potential for innovation using social media is a large enough carrot for the discussion of how to properly utilize the medium continues. Palo Alto networks came up with a webinar, http://bit.ly/cR80Al, that will explore the issues surrounding social media in the workplace as a follow-up to a very popular whitepaper you may have already read, http://bit.ly/d2NZRp. It is important to not only understand the immediate benefits of doing business how one lives, but the threat it presents to a company’s greater ROI and productivity when it comes to the server’s safety and security.

Nicollepetersen (user link) says:

Whether an application is blocked or not, self-control comes from within

Ive been using http://bit.ly/bJwmma .
It uses a better method than blocking social media sites because it only monitors sites like Facebook during production hours. People/Employees still have the option to use it for a breather or during breaks really . Sometimes they use it for work too in helping reach decisions. For me its really unnecessary to block Facebook.

Question mark says:

What is wrong with you people?

There is something terribly wrong with some people here..
what makes you think you are entitled to be on a social networking site during company’s time unless it’s part of your job description?

Productivity DOES decline when someone is on the social networking site during work hours. If you need to so bad see your friends status .. which is so dumb.. then go on your phone on your break time! Unless you are hired to be that person who takes care of the website, or certain pages on the internet regarding the company.. then you are not entitled to be wasting company’s money and time surfing your friend’s page.

Stupid stupid people these days..

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