How can this work, when its blocked.

Well it just took more time…and mounting pressure from below, as well as from above. Secretary didn’t like to hear that most of his employees couldn’t see his Facebook page.

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Allen Sheaprd


I’m not sure what to do other than collect evidence of people using twitter for work and education.

The LAN admin guy has been trying to block YouTube for years but can not because there are legit courses and demos on YouTube. Where I’m not sure but the power that be let people watch.

Till then – GovLoop at home and get ahead of the game even if work is not in the game.


David Harrity

Have you submitted a request explaining your business/professional reasons to your supervisor or information technology coordinator?

Many agencies use “content filtering engines” to block categories of websites such as “social networking” or “personal/blogs”. Often the blocked message may describe how you can request to have the page unblocked.

It may be easier to ask to unblock a specific site, such as GovLoop, which (by definition) has a more defined purpose and audience in support of government services than to ask for an entire category such as “social networking” where federal/departmental policies are still in development.

Ari Herzog

Last I checked, the U.S. Communications Decency Act was overturned by the Supreme Court and libraries are not required. Am I to infer, Scott, that government agencies block access to pornographic and gambling websites?

Kathy Bowman

Ours will allow it if you can show a user need. There’s always evenings and weekends at homes. (What do you mean, 40 hour work week? Grin)

Ari Herzog

Hold on a second here. Let’s go back to the porn. I was an active opponent of the CDA during college, back when I subscribed to listservs with the ACLU, EFF, and ALA. My perspective then–which remains in force now–is when one is blocking porn straight out, then one is blocking nude images from Madonna’s Sex book and Robert Maplethorpe nude portraits. Or… is the government not including nudity?

Scott Horvath

@Ari: When it comes to pornography, gambling, etc, I think they’re doing the right thing in blocking it from access b/c I understand why they’re blocking it. It’s obvious. As I said though, my personal opinion is that if you don’t block those then you have a method by which you can find people who are accessing those sites and deal with them appropriately. What I don’t agree with, which is going back to the original post by M.P., is blocking sites like Twitter. Twitter is not harmful. The only way it could be seen negative is that someone could potentially waste their day on it. But that’s not to say that everyone would do that. There’s a legitimate business reason for Twitter (as an example) but blocking it doesn’t allow for that legitimate use.

Ari Herzog

We can agree to disagree, I suppose.

One tack to consider is government regulates pornography and gambling. Supposing a pornstar’s or casino’s blog includes a post referencing a government action or decree, if said government agency blocks access, then where’s the authenticity of a reply if it can only be done after-hours and from one’s personal computer?

Allen Sheaprd

Hi. I agree with you. The CDC, HHS, Pandemic Flu program of HHS, Red Cross (multiple chapters and people) all twitter. Each one is helping the PR of the agency or program.

Twitter could waste a day – just like email or reading the Googl/Yahoo/CNBC news.

I think the ‘Why” is a good part of the solution. It will either get employee buy in on “ok there is a reason” or it will get management to be less 1.0 and more 2.0

As we have moved from letters to FAX machine to eMail, the next step may be twitter and twitter like clones. One may want to stress that twitter is not like IM where its mainly family. It is more business like along the lines of second life.

Andre Goodfriend

I think that the Internet in general has taken unwarranted hits on a number of fronts for a variety of reasons

– Innovations are generally deployed before the need is understood among average users
– The invisible aspect of the virtual internet community heightens the sense of alarm about the risks of a danger one can’t see and contacts one has never met.
– Social networking can be like a never ending phone call or conference. They’re good for developing social capital and carrying out peer-to-peer collaborative research, but a supervisor will want to see tangible results.

I note that USA.gov and Web Best Practices Director Bev Godwin at the GSA, who is a Govloop member, discusses the government issues with regards to social networking sites as follows:

“Government Issues

Some agencies have blocked use of social networking sites from government workplaces, citing concerns of proper use, bandwidth, and security. An agencywide ban, without waivers, prevents web managers, communications professionals, and others in the organizations from using these tools to help market and achieve the agency’s mission.

There is nothing to prevent individuals from participating on social networking sites as individuals. However, it may not be clear in some agencies what official interaction agency employees can have on social networking sites.”

I agree with Allen that understanding why we are using these tools is a big part of our being able to use them effectively. Coincidentally, it’s a question I posted to the forum yesterday, along with some suggestions.

Denise Petet

We block facebook, my space and the other biggie social networking sites. Also blocked govloop until a month or so ago. we have Websense and I’ve even gotten dinged for going to best buy.com….cause some of the reviews are hotlinked back to a myspace or facebook page.
We supposedly have so many needless reports coming in that IT isn’t even forwarding them to the supervisor anymore, unless it’s something really obvious and ‘bad’ (like the person that tries to get to the vicky’s secrets site 20 times a day)

We have a facebook page. Our operation lifesaver – a rail road safety program – has a facebook and myspace page…and when the statewide organizer trains people to present on the topic she has to link into the ‘guest’ wifi, cause she can’t access these legit pages.

What would be helpful is if the social networking sites organize themselves. For example, I’ve been told that one reason youtube isn’t blocked is because – generally speaking – the ‘naughty’ content is segregated. and I understand that part of the site is blocked while you can get at youtube in general.

Maybe facebook and myspace need to do the same. Have a ‘personal’ section of the site that can be blocked, and a ‘business’ part that government organizations can access to conduct business – like access their own sites at work.

won’t be perfect, but it’d at least be a start.