by Timothy Lee
Thu, Nov 8th 2007 3:24pm
Another "web security firm" (I'm not going to give them undeserved publicity by naming them but you can click the link if you care) is getting some easy publicity by announcing the results of a survey finding that half of their customers block MySpace or Facebook surfing at work. That's not too surprising, since this was a survey of the customers of a company that sells blocking software. We covered a similar publicity stunt back in August (and indeed we've been debunking these stories for years). That study found that 43 percent of workers are blocked from accessing Facebook at work. But the latest study finds that only 25.6 percent of the firm's customers block Facebook. There are a couple of ways we might interpret this data. One is that Facebook blocking is actually falling, and that we can extrapolate no Facebook blocking at all sometime next May! The more likely explanation, though, is that these numbers are totally meaningless and self-serving. Of course, these stories inevitably go on to quote a company executive about how personal surfing at work is a "growing concern." In the latest story, the company predicts that two-thirds of companies would be filtering by next year. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the company is selling the software companies would need to do that filtering.
Neither story raises the possibility that blocking Facebook is pointless because it's likely to just irritate your employees without making them more productive. There is an infinite number of ways to procrastinate, from personal phone calls and emails to chatting with co-workers to taking a nap at your desk. They also don't mention that allowing your users to surf at work can lead to happier, more loyal employees who will more than make up for their lost productivity at work by doing work-related surfing at home.
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