Government Employees Banned From Using The Social Networking Tools They're Told To Use
from the bureaucracy-at-work dept
Last year, we wrote about how it seemed like a mistake to us that the government in Montenegro had decided to block access to Facebook on government computers. While many disagreed in the comments, Facebook and other social networking sites are quickly becoming useful tools of communication (for some, it’s their primary tool for communication). Blocking access is missing the point, and preventing a useful tool from being utilized, just because some might abuse it.
It turns out that the US government actually is doing the same thing… even as it’s supposedly encouraging an era of social networking inspired “transparency” and an embrace of “Government 2.0.” The NY Times notes the bureaucratic mess of government officials trying to make use of this enabling technology including this stunning quote:
“We have a Facebook page,” said one official of the Department of Homeland Security. “But we don’t allow people to look at Facebook in the office. So we have to go home to use it. I find this bizarre.”
Meanwhile, Wired is highlighting a similar story. Apparently, the US military has been blocking access to YouTube, but set up a special alternative just for troops, called TroopTube. And, yet… it started blocking that site as well. It may just be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, but it seems so common in government that it’s really rather ridiculous. These tools, while they may be prone to misuse and time-wasting, are also becoming key ways that people communicate. For a supposedly more open and transparent government, allowing access is a necessity. Deal with the abuses separately, rather than making an outright ban.