Government 2.0 Club is an informal organization focused on convening the tribe of technologists and thinkers focused on applying social technologies to the governments worldwide.
Blocking Facebook at Federal Agencies
August 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm #107242
How many Federal Agencies allow employees to use Facebook at work?
CIO office would like to block it for bandwidth and security issues,
but I would like to argue that we keep it because some employees do use
it for professional networking. There are also employee morale issues
Has anyone else had to make the case for *not* blocking Facebook at work? What did you say?
August 4, 2010 at 1:45 pm #107270
At one of my previous jobs I was blocked from using any type of social networking. I felt that this was a bit of an intrusion of my personal life although I was at work. I do use Facebook to network and spread the word about my job, the industry and my company so by blocking it, I was prohibited from talking well about what I was doing. At my current job, I am involved with social media marketing for my company so I am actually required to be on social media all day. This is good though because I can spread company news and blog posts on my profile page as well as my company’s fan page.
August 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm #107268
I would make a strong case not to block FaceBook for the FAA. Here are my reasons:
1. Leverage a free, robust, entrenched professional network. Until FedSpace is launched, Facebook is the best (and probably most widely used) social networking site for gov’t workers. It has a robust feature set that will help to streamline operations, reduce costs, and spread knowledge throughout your network. The FAA has many office locations and rather than try to create or launch a top-down communications network, management could leverage Facebook–and employees’ existing accounts/networks–to help disseminate information efficiently and effectively.
2. Bottom-up news aggregation. People use Facebook (and even more, twitter) to let other people know about important, breaking news. Rather than wait for a news alert, many people will notify their network of important, breaking news through the sharing features on Facebook.
3. Engage communities of interest. Here is the Facebok aviation page. Here’s the FAA page. Here’s the commercial aviation page. All of these pages are conversations that FAA employees should at least know about, perhaps follow, and some should even participate in them.
These are my top three reasons; I hope this is helpful to you.
Feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to talk at greater length!
August 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm #107266
GSA has a TOS with Facebook, many Secretary-level and Administrator-level Facebook pages are coming to fruition. There are formal and approved Facebook pages for agencies, so to disalow employees to view what the agency is putting online isn’t a great practice. The normal code of conduct covers reasonable use, so why block?
August 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm #107262
The motivation should be to set up FedSpace ASAP.
August 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm #107260
I agree that FedSpace needs to be up and running, but that solves only the issues related to internal networking. The agency also needs to be able to monitor relevant discussions beyond its own walls. At least SOME employees should have access to facebook and I’d argue that all employees should have access to twitter, so they can see what’s going on beyond the building.
August 4, 2010 at 3:25 pm #107258
Interesting topic. Social media was completely blocked on all DoD unclassified networked systems until a few months ago. Most DoD organizations now have access to most of the popular sites, to include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. This is part our overall communication strategy to allow our personnel to share their military stories with their friends, families and networks worldwide.
August 5, 2010 at 11:47 am #107256
FedSpace is great if you are communicating within the Federal sphere… the issue gets down to monitoring, interacting, and using these external and inherently public forms of communication for just those reasons. The effort to use Facebook is one to engage the public and have discourse of meaning. You go where the audience lives. You can’t segregate them by having only a few with enough motivation to come to your party participate and still expect good solid results. Just like with polls and surveys, first you have to validate that you aren’t introducing bias. Meeting the public in their venues is important.
August 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm #107254
Bryan Conway JD, PMPParticipant
Currently, my agency, DoD-DFAS, does block FB.
While on its face this seems like a reasonable idea to allow social networking at work, I fear that a majority of people would probably use their access for non-work activities! My friends at other agencies post quite frequently throughout the day and very little of the subject matter pertains to their jobs.
August 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm #107252
As long as they are completing their assigned tasks on time and to standard; does it really make any difference if they “post quite frequently throughout the day and very little of the subject matter pertains to their jobs”? If they are not completeing their assigned tasks on time or to standard; is their web surfing the cause of the problem or just another symptom of lack of motivation?
August 11, 2010 at 2:10 am #107250
I think one of the serious things that needs to be considered is this fact: the single largest source of traffic on DOT networks is Facebook. That means that people aren’t using government computing resources for “incidental personal use” at all.
I think blocking access is an arbitrary reactionary move, but managers and employees do need to reach an understanding about how/why social media is helping them accomplish their mission.
The Standards of Ethical Conduct are and have been quite clear on this. Any personal use that causes congestion, delay, or disruption of Agency computing resources is either or both of misuse or inappropriate personal use.
August 11, 2010 at 3:00 am #107248
I work at Shaw AFB, SC, which is part of Air Combat Command and we are allowed to access Facebook and Twitter. This is just recently…since about April or March I believe. But we can’t access GovLoop because the site is blocked due to it being “social media”; which makes no sense to me.
I’m working on trying to get GovLoop unblocked if I can but I have to forward a request and justification to our COMM HQ. They’re helping me here so I think I have a good chance.
August 31, 2010 at 3:41 am #107246
So a disclaimer, I work in the private sector, so I may be looking at this through a different lens.
I used to work for a large financial services firm and at different points in time various web sites (such as Facebook) were blocked. For the most part this was done for security and compliance reasons rather than productivity and infrastructure cost.
In my opinion Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are on line communities of sorts. Like any community they facilitate work, play, and participations by individuals and groups. Like any community, there should be the expectation that people will act responsibly.
It is a bit of a balancing act. Most productive employees have very little time for personal communications during the day. On the other hand, to say to an employee that may work long hours and is tethered to their blackberry out of hours, that they cannot spend a couple of minutes reaching out to friends/family during the day may be a bit draconian.
A clear code of conduct regarding the use of agency resources and culture that rewards performance and productivity is probably the best weapon against abuse of network resources.
September 1, 2010 at 5:04 pm #107244
I work exclusively with law enforcement and I’ve heard many comments from commanders of agencies at federal and local levels that Facebook is creating a big problem with loss of productivity. To me, that’s a discipline or training issue though.
Facebook in law enforcement is an ideal way for LE to engage citizens and many agencies are figuring that out.
A big problem still exists for School Resource Officers. In schools they’re often blocked from all social media sites when that’s precisely where they need to be to reach the kids.
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