It's Time for Companies to Unblock Facebook

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IT departments take a great deal of effort in blocking access to internet sites which are deemed unproductive such as Facebook and Twitter. ...

IT departments take a great deal of effort in blocking access to internet sites which are deemed unproductive such as Facebook and Twitter. With affordable data plans, ubiquity of smart phones and a shift in the online social culture, could IT departments be trying to stop King Kong with a firehose?

By Karn G. Bulsuk


Chief Information Officers, IT departments and all those involved, listen up: it's time to stop blocking Facebook.

The blocking of Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites have long been a staple of the corporate environment. The most common argument heard for this is that access to such sites will "decrease work efficiency."

While the blocking strategy may have succeeded in the past, the availability of smart phones as well as affordable data plans have given people uncontrolled access to the internet, with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube apps on your iPhone gracefully bypassing the corporate firewall. More technologically inclined employees may even seek to tether their phones to their computers at work, and with 3G and upcoming 4G speeds, be just as good as the wired connection the company offers without any of the blocking.

In other words, there's no way you can stop employees from spending company time on social networking sites in today's "always-on always-update" culture. If they can't post an update or photo through their company computer, they'll do it anyway on their smart phones - all on company time.

A Realistic Model

While it is tempting to recommend the dumping of internet blocking altogether, companies need to minimise the potential for a law suit or criminal investigation in the event that a user accesses questionable websites. At the same time, some countries have regulations which put penalties on firms if they do not regulate internet access and keep access logs.

In a suitable compromise, companies could begin to only block websites which are legally risky, while leaving open social networking sites. It could help to increase employee satisfaction by showing that the company trusts them to finish their work even with open internet access, as well as foster the image that they are in-touch with generation Y and the internet culture.

With everything against blocking, maybe its time to face facts and let the virtual Berlin Wall come down. Everyone will be better off that way.

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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: It's Time for Companies to Unblock Facebook
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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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