Employers Restricting Social Networking Sites

The American Management Association has estimated that about half of all U.S. employers have policies restricting workers from visiting social networking sites. A new TechRepublic poll conducted during the first half of July indicates that the number is even higher, as 71 percent of 1,003 respondents claiming that their companies were blocking such sites. (Since the latter’s audience consists primarily of IT professionals, this poll reflects mostly enterprises and SMBs large enough to hire an IT specialist.)

Can this issue be a source of tension between IT and users? Yes — especially among new college graduates, who expect to be able to access sites like Facebook at work. It was even the subject of an Associated Press article earlier this year.

One TechRepublic respondent claimed that, “The blocking at my company is so draconian — in order to keep the assistants from surfing, playing games, reading blogs, streaming videos or music — that I have difficulty finding job-related, pertinent IT information on blogs for fixes I need.”

The TechRepublic poll indicated that some companies have different standards for different classes of employees, and that the rationale of blocking social networking to boost employee productivity is often flawed.

Smarter software is suggested as a possible solution, because some companies are now making firewalls and filtering appliances that give IT more control. For example, a company can allow users to go to Facebook or Flickr but prevent them from uploading files, in order to protect company data.

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