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Facebook for Government Employees: Many Ban It, But Is It A Big Deal?

By Andrea Di Maio | May 05, 2009 | 1 Comment

social networks in government

During my several meetings in the U.S. and Canada over the last few days, I have been checking with almost every single client whether they allow users to access Facebook and other social media sites. As I was expecting, most ban them but make provisions for exceptions if duly justified with a business case.

Out of over 20 meetings, only two organizations (both federal) allow all employees to access Facebook.

One organization is concerned with art and culture (ranging from overseeing museums to issuing grants for art productions), and is traditionally engaged with constituents who make significant use of social media.

The other one is more unlikely, as it manages mortgages, not the typical profile for a progressive web 2.0 user. They are keeping an open mind on whether and how social media can be beneficial to employees who want to improve their work effectiveness. They have no specific social media policy in place, as they believe that their Internet fair use policy covers most of the ground. Further they are monitoring usage and just found out that Facebook and other social media are responsible for less than 4 percent of network traffic, considerably less than online newspapers.

One might argue that the low usage is related to demographics and that different agencies would have a much bigger problem. However I found the approach quite intriguing is the approach: Let people use Facebook and then figure out how much and for what purpose people are using it. This is quite different from the approach Gartner usually recommends (see How Governments Can Use Social Networks – subscription required), but certainly worth some further analysis.

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1 Comment

  • Sharon Galea says:

    Is is fair to discount online newspapers from social networking statistics? While it’s safe to assume that many individuals are reading the articles, the comments associated with the articles often are more interesting than the articles themselves. In addition, there is frequently noticeable banter between regular commenters. Perhaps online newspapers are another forum for social networking, but with a more focused context?