back to article Most bosses monitor or block social-network use at work

Viruses, loss of confidential data and fear of employees tooling around doing sweet FA on Twitter are the top reasons that employers give for putting the brakes on social media in the workplace. And it's stopping them benefiting from new collaborative technologies, says ClearSwift Research. The company surveyed 1,529 employees …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. jason 7

    Seems fair to me.

    If I was employing a group of people I'd want them to be working for me not dicking around posting about Torchwood or the new Starwars Blu-rays.

    I love the "And it's stopping them benefiting from new collaborative technologies" bit. Yes like all those folks dicking around on social networks will be gallantly pushing forward my company to new ventures and triumphs. Well on or two might (i'm being generous here) but the other 438 wont be.

    Not worth the hassle. Block em! Block em all! Thats what hometime is for after all.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      Just as long as they don't block access to the Reg's forums's yeah?

      1. AndrueC Silver badge


        That poster sounds like management material. Managers only set rules - they either only apply to plebs or else they just ignore them.

  2. Mondo the Magnificent

    It's the company's network...

    At the end of the day, if you don't have an Internet connection at home you may rely upon your employer's resources to do some on line shopping etc; but the social network ban ensures that you do what your paid to do, opposed to dicking around on facebook or browsing and Posting on forums all day..

    Talking of which, let me save this Post before my session mysteriously times out and El Reg appears on the Admin's shitlist...

  3. Graham 25


    "And it's stopping them benefiting from new collaborative technologies, says ClearSwift Research."

    For 90% of ther working population ....... b***ocks. people have been goofing off for years and Facebook just allows them to do it while presenting the semblance of working.

    Simple solution we had at work - single machine in the middle of the room, with unrestricted internet access, but logins required to use it to 'benefit from new collaborative techniques'. Oh, and no access to shared folders, files etc so anything that you want to upload has to go on a flash drive so no excuses for accidental disclosure. Usage levels were monitored but not what was actually done. needless to say the machine had a direct link and no access to the rest of the network.

    Worked a treat.

    1. frank ly

      The Modern Solution:

      Tell them to get an Android phone or tablet and do their Facepalming and Twattering on that.

      1. Elmer Phud

        It's the rich wot gets the pleasure . . .

        No mention of the heavy use of CrackBerries by management and the little 'this was sent from my Blackberry' on Facebook?

  4. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    we block it. It has no use in our workplace. It serves only to be used as a time sink.

    Obviously im not filtered as an admin.

  5. Reue

    Not worth the effort

    We used to heavily monitor and restrict internet usages however a couple of years ago effectivly removed all restrictions.

    Since then there has been no noticable loss of productivity and staff seem happier. So what if a few customer service agents plant some new crops on their Farmvilles between recieving phone calls? Its not worth increasing the staff turnover and decreasing moral to restrict it.

    The only thing I will do is keep an eye on our Terminal servers incase any begin running too hot, in which case I'll give the user playing all those flash games a quick call and ask them if they wouldnt mind closing a few of the unused windows.

  6. Paul Berry

    Not condoning it but...

    Let's just say it can lead to many people's first tinkering with drivers/etc/hosts

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It must be nice to be able to afford to jack your job in

    in favour of mucking about on Facebook all day.

  8. Arctic fox

    "they have little sense of what they are being protected from"

    "[Employees] feel disconnected from the risks of Web 2.0 – they have little sense of what they are being protected from, and therefore respond negatively to monitoring and security measures.

    Really? The employees are apparently ignorant of the risks? Sounds like some in-house training courses might be in order. If your employees are that unaware then the management should be taking a good hard look in the mirror because some of *them* are clearly doing very little at work not just the footsoldiers spending time with FB. The workplace culture is the managements responsibility, end of.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Not just social networking sites

    My employer blocks youtube, msn videos, photobucket, flickr and many motoring websites/forums. I find this last bit peculiar because we are an automotive company.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twisty Kids

    "only 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 44 per cent of 25-34-year-olds would happily stay at a job if they found their employer's social media policy too restrictive."

    The only thing that proves is that young people are liers!

    1. dssf

      Or, they maybe be

      Outliers and liars, too, lol!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Youth Unemployment Rate

      Maybe that's one of the reasons as to why so many youngsters are unemployed these days? Sure, there are few jobs out there, but if i need to spend time and money training up someone to do the job and then have to give extra allowance for their wish to d!ck around on farcebook or twatter then I will happily rather employ someone who already has the experience, skills and work ethic that deserves the goo money that I am paying them, thank you very much.

      It reminds me of all this benefits culture, too many people think that they deserve things or are entitled to them, but in the real world most of us have to graft whether we like it or not.

      Davie boy calls it "tough love" !

  11. Death_Ninja

    Only 43%?

    "Forty-three percent of companies had actually experienced a security incident resulting from internet use"

    And presumably the other 57% were either lying or weren't connected to the internet or not actually capable of detecting issues....

    This of course is not the same question as "Have you ever had a computer security problem caused by using Social Networking?"

    Of course the damned connection is a problem, but short of no connection (if your business can afford to operate like that across its entirity ) you just have to develop polices and deploy technology to limit the impact.

    URL filtering is one aspect that can help, blocking social networking is unlikely to yield genuine network security technical advantages (short of people talking about stuff they shouldn't, but hey, they can do that outside of work too!) but I can see how some would say it has little business value - not the same as being able to google for work stuff for example. Knowing that your friends (as opposed to colleagues or business contacts) have just written some trivial crap or that Arsenal have signed a new player is pretty worthless work wise.... maybe could be said about me writing this :D

  12. fiddley

    Get a clue, managers!

    All you luddites screaming for website blocks are utterly deluded. You obviously think that website blocks will increase worker productivity as though they suddenly become some kind of automaton capable of 8hrs solid thoughtfulness and concerted effort. 8hr minus breaks that is (But only the statutory ones!)

    Apart from anything, you're just deflecting the slacking off to other areas - People will take their full lunch entitlement, and their sick day 'entitlement'. They'll arrive at 9 and leave at 5, they'll have extra long coffee breaks, even extra toilet breaks. I've seen people where their freedom is so curtailed, they resort to moving the box around an empty spreadsheet with the arrow keys, so adamantly did their minds demand some kind of non-work related stimulation.

    I for one am grateful my employer allows me the freedom to have downtime when needed and repay that trust with 'free' weekend maintenance work and pulling a late one where necessary, not to mention the extra study I put in so I can provide outstanding work at all other times.

    You lot may well be running successful businesses, or be an efficient middle manager but you could be doing so much better if you treated your staff as human beings.

    Dudes, it's no longer acceptable to have an office like a Dickensian schoolroom, and your best staff know this - but you won't keep them for long.

    A beer for all your long suffering staff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Dyslexic Workers of the World ... Untie!

      "I've seen people where their freedom is so curtailed, they resort to moving the box around an empty spreadsheet with the arrow keys, so adamantly did their minds demand some kind of non-work related stimulation."

      Oh dear.


      1. fiddley

        I would...

        ...but IT have blocked it ;-)

    2. Naughtyhorse


      we used to have this sort of policy, then in moved the IT nazis.

      and here we sit 3 years down the road...

      50% of the highly trained staff gone.

      massive 'fuck you' mentality and unnoficial work to rule from the remaining workers.

      decreased productivity.

      the extent of blocked sites encroaches on work related information sources.

      thanks FSM we have such brilliant managers, else we would surely go out of business!

  13. Number6

    https access

    At least if you've taken the trouble to enable ssl, it makes the monitoring bit harder. I'd rather be blocked than monitored, anyway.

    I've been known to handle work email from home, and home email from work - it generally balances out and the job gets done and we're all happy.

    1. Ru

      Re: https access

      Of course. I'm sure you'd never have to worry about someone doing anything like ensuring that all workplace computers trust their own CA issued certificates and then running an SSL proxy so that encrypted traffic to certain sites could be inspected as if it were in plain text.

      But what sort of a person would want to do that? Why, they'd have to exhibit a fair bit of malice, contempt for facebook users and have some sort of easy justification for management approval (it increases employee productivity!).

  14. Anonymous Coward

    The kids at work today eh?

    Me: working like a bastard! Rinse, repeat....

    Them: Twitter, coffee, Email, FB, chat, Twitter, outside for a catchup, a bit of work, Twitter, FB.......

  15. That Steve Guy


    "And it's stopping them benefiting from new collaborative technologies, says ClearSwift Research."

    Always makes me laugh when some web 2.0 fan comes out and says something like this, they talk about benefits but do not give any examples of said benefits in the real world.

    As a manufacturing company what benefit would allowing our employees on farcebook have? We have a marketing department that manages the "like" page for our business and our twitter feed, sure ok but beyond that?

    Very difficult to find anything that counteracts the negativity of employees goofing off by commenting endlessly on what their mates did when they got drunk last weekend, or levelling up again in Mafia Wars or Farmville.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Well said. And if people's minds are wandering on this stuff it means they are not focused on their jobs. If they need a break then go and talk with a real person in the coffee bar!

      Jeez. Scivers or what?

  16. Peter Mc Aulay

    "they have little sense of what they are being protected from"

    Plus ça change... I'm sure anyone who's had to admin e-mail systems in the past decade can sympathise... not!

  17. Bernard M. Orwell

    Personal Experience

    I work for a certain large provider of ICT services to certain government bodies. Here, in the office, we enjoy unrestricted access to the interwebs (less the things that Bluecoats very sensibly filter out.)

    I am, however, responsible for a certain amount of work at a certain level of quality. My role is to achieve those goals to the best of my abilities. If I spent all my time on the web then I'd not meet those goals and I'd be in for the high jump. Instead, I feel responsible for my own time-management. Because I have unrestricted access I find that it's helpful to my work as I can search freely for solutions and discuss issues with friends who are techies on other contracts or at other sites and also I find that I spend more time AT my desk. Lunchtimes are a thing of the past for me, and I'll happily sit here, doing some work, answering my phone, chatting on MSN etc. etc. all day. Sometimes past the end of my assigned hours for heavens sake. I feel trusted and valued in my role (Don't get me wrong, its not heaven, but in 22 years of IT work its the best I've been in).

    Happy, trusted staff = productive staff, and if they "aren't conversant with the dangers of the interweb" then you should take the chance to educate them, further encouraging their sense of loyalty and inclusion in your company.

    If you threaten, block and cajole then you are breeding resentment and all that brings with it. Best of luck with that.

  18. The Dodoman

    "significant" advantages

    We blocked FB and saw a "significant" decrease of 30% in bandwidth consumption together with far less complaints from users regarding Internet response.

  19. jason 7


    "Apart from anything, you're just deflecting the slacking off to other areas - People will take their full lunch entitlement, and their sick day 'entitlement'. They'll arrive at 9 and leave at 5, they'll have extra long coffee breaks, even extra toilet breaks. I've seen people where their freedom is so curtailed, they resort to moving the box around an empty spreadsheet with the arrow keys, so adamantly did their minds demand some kind of non-work related stimulation."

    Errm if my experience of the Great British workforce is anything to go by they do all that time wasting already so why give them more avenues to waste time?

    I expect to work with mature slightly productive adults that signed on to do the job they are paid for. Not sulky socially inept 15 year olds crying cos their toys were taken away. If they dont like it they can find a job elsewhere..maybe with a cool fussball table and other childrens toys.

    Take your skinny jeans, memes and white hipster plimsoles elsewhere.

    1. fiddley

      You, sir

      are a dinosaur. TBH, I'm glad the world is filled with people like you, because it makes it so much easier to sweep up your disaffected staff, bring them in to a culture where they are respected and have them turn over literally millions of pounds worth of business for us. Recession people say - What recession we're saying - seems like we're doing something right. We're on track for record profits, 4th consecutive year.

      But, do keep up the good work, Cap'n. Minimum Wage & Maximum Boredom, that's obviously the way to retain a high caliber person on the staff roster.

      Bet you're a blast at parties.

      1. jason 7

        It really isnt difficult...... find staff willing to do pretty much anything these days.

        Money and debts are a far bigger motivator to work than access to Facebook.

        And the reward is bonuses for good work. Not giving them freebie access to the web.

        Fussball tables, dress down Friday and web access are just cheap distractions for staff. The smart ones look for the juicy bonuses and other real perks and incentives.

        You need to play the long game my boy.

        1. fiddley
          Thumb Up

          So what you're saying is...

          Facebook and slacking at work cost me money, so I block them and then throw that very same money at them later in the way of bonuses instead. At the same time my staff have the morale of a turkey at Christmas, and my recruiting costs are sky high due to staff turnover.

          Yeah, nice one bud.

          This possibly explains your experience with the 'Great British workforce' you mentioned above. Me, I think it's better to keep good staff long term and not have to worry about where I can get replacements from, or the problem of lower productivity whilst the new slaves get themselves bedded in. Over and above all that, the 'cost' of not blocking access is so miniscule, that our staff seem to get bonuses *anyway*.

          I've had this conversation many, many times, with people who, IMHO just don't get it. I think we're simply on paths that are diametrically opposed, and never the twain shall meet. I've never yet convinced anyone pre-conditioned to your way of thinking that it actually is better this way. Similarly vice versa.

          I happen to think you're on the wrong path, as do you, I, but that's what the makes the world go round, right? I guess it all comes out in the wash and we'll find out sooner or later who's right. As with most things, it's probably somewhere in the middle. Best of luck for your venture.

          1. jason 7

            All well and good.....

            ..if your staff are mainly under the age of 30. But after a while you find one tires of working in an environment that resembles a sixth form college all the time. Your needs change and one has to get serious about ones career. Maybe even wear a suit and tie.

            When you get above that age, most of that "cool&fun" style of management looks false and somewhat tedious. Not many 30+ folks enjoy that model they have grown up and other priorities.

            You cant treat everyone like they are your party mate. It doesnt work in all work environments, might do for yours, not in mine.

            You'll find out once you get there. We all learn.

            1. fiddley


              Thanks for that. Was going to, umm, troll some other threads but couldn't resist coming back to that baseless ad-hom. I can't really see any justification in there other that 'I'm a misery and that how everyone should be.' More devoid of content than... I don't know... the rest of jason 7's skull?

              Just so you know, I've been walking this mortal coil a lot (A LOT) longer than you reckon, boy. I so very hope we're in the same sector and I get to meet you during one of our next few acquisitions.

  20. Graham Marsden

    I wouldn't normally quote the Bible, but...

    "Do not bind the mouths of the kine that tread the grain"

  21. James O'Shea


    At the office, certain sites (including Arsebook) are blocked. Period. All machines connected to the main network are monitored, and certain activities which might indicate that someone is trying to slide past the blocks are flagged, together with the IP and MAC of the offender. All email is monitored. It's the company's network. It's the company's computers. You use 'em for work or you find another job, there are _plenty_ of others looking for work who will be _glad_ to take yours. (The last time we advertised for new staff I had three available spots, and 26 good candidates, after sorting out better than 100 not-so-good candidates, for them. If the company fired the entire department tomorrow they could find replacements for every single person in it by next week Friday at the very most. Those who don't want to put up with the restrictions on company equipment and network usage are encouraged to find employment elsewhere. Immediately.) Non-company computers are not allowed on the main network without direct, explicit, authorisation. This includes smartphones, tablets, netbooks, etc. Attempts to get past the restrictions can be a termination offence.

    There is a secondary network which has no, none, zero, connection to the main network and much less restrictive access policies. It is also a lot slower, and is monitored as well. Work computers are not allowed on it; we monitor to ensure that no-one 'forgets' and unplugs the blue Cat 5E and plugs in the white Cat 5, and the MACs of company machines are known to the secondary network's servers. 'Accidentally' connecting to the wrong network is punishable; deliberately attempting to use MAC spoofing to try to get around restrictions is a termination offence. Repeatedly having 'accidents' is also a termination offence.

    Now, should you bring in your personal laptop/netbook/table/smartphone/whatever, and should your personal device connect to the internet by some means other than the company network, then the company doesn't care... so long as that device isn't connected to the company network or a company computer at the same time. I am, for example, currently typing this on my very own personal machine connected to the Internet by my very own personal USB stick which connects via a cell company to the Internet. And it's my very own money which pays for the account with the cell company. I have my laptop in plain sight on the desk, beside my company machine's keyboard, and can send and receive all the private email and visit any website I like (including Arsebook, should I ever feel the need to be Zuckerberged, which I don't) and the company neither knows nor cares... so long as I get my work done on time and on budget, which I do.

    1. Chris007

      I started reading your post and finding myself thinking after paragraph 1 "uh oh, another Jason 7" , after paragraph 2 I thought getting better and by the end my thoughts were this is pretty much how it should be. (I know some companies treat the use of personal phones accessing arsebook etc the same as if they'd used the company's kit)

      Personally I would be happy to let staff use things like arsebook etc with the caveat that the time spent on these website is logged and excessive usage will require some explaining and free OT from that person!

      PS Really - an optional title now! But still not Evil Jobs icon back...Look you're still persona non-grata at Apple events, removing that Icon has not had you invited back into the fold so let's just have it back please :)

      1. James O'Shea


        We have three levels of network connection:

        1 the main network (wired and wireless), which is monitored and has severe restrictions and is there for work purposes only

        2 the secondary network (again wired and wireless), which is monitored, but has very few restrictions and is there for visitors, clients, and others. Just don't attach a company machine unless you've got permission in writing. The secondary network is _NOT_ connected to the main network.

        3 whatever you have attached to your own devices. If you _don't_ want to be monitored, then bring your own connection. Problem done. (Just don't attach that connection to a company machine unless you have permission in writing...)

        The company does not care what sites anyone, including staff, goes to if they're using their own stuff; your own security is your problem. The company cares deeply about not getting malware on the main network. It cares deeply about maintaining system integrity. It cares deeply about data security. Anyone who exposes the company's main network to a problem will be fired, forthwith. It will not matter if no problem resulted. All that will matter is that the idiot in question deliberately tried to circumvent system security.

        There are alternatives to using the main network for visiting Arsebook, and the company actively encourages staff to use those. And, should you really, really, REALLY need to get to some site on the blocked list for a legitimate reason, the block can be overridden just for you and just that one time. (And, yes, the logs will show who overrode the block so there had better be permission for said override, in writing.) Should some twat evade the blocks and use the main network and we find out about it (and we _will_ find out about it) we will drop the hammer on said assclown. There have been, in the past, clever dicks who thought that they were smarter than we are; they are no longer employed here.

        This is a place of work, not a playground. If someone uses company equipment in ways contrary to their terms of employment (and everyone signs the Internet and Computer Usage Policy documents as a condition of employment and is issued with their very own copies of our policy book) then they will no longer be employed here. They can then go and hang out on Arsebook or whereever to their heart's content.

  22. New web sites admin

    Social Media restrictions

    Restrictions on internet usage originally came about because Internet band width was small and expensive and it helped to prevent users using up the valuable band width looking for football results etc and preventing the transfer of reports to “The New Office” and other business related transactions. This was called band-width throttling.

    Later URL blocking came about preventing users from reaching websites that the company and society at large deemed unsuitable, which was a good thing after some of the abuses I witnessed while working in the City of London, mostly along the lines of sexual harassment .

    This was then followed by email filtering, further restricting online activities to business related transactions, as someone would check the content in each suspect email inbound and outbound

    Shortly after, these technologies where used to prevent staff sending out sensitive company information to competitors or associates that could partake of doggy dealings with the information whether that meant insider dealing or selling customer data or other business sensitive information . These are enforced by policies and agreements usually signed annually by each employee.

    Today most workers seem more interested in updating their social network status than taking part in fraud and doggy dealing, mainly due to much stricter company policies.

    Restrictions on Internet use and more importantly abuse has helped to protect the company from viruses, harassment cases etc, and these in turn help to protect people staff from themselves. For instance a typing error in the URL bar that takes a user to a site containing pornography or worse, would mean that person could be called to account for using company equipment and resources to visit illicit websites during working hours. With many companies now enforcing a zero tolerance policy that person could end up lose their job.

    Restrictions on Internet usage have been around for a while now.

    But it is very typical hype, great sensationalization for the media to say companies block use of social websites.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Restrictions simply don't work

    Worked at a pace that had the most locked down PC, network, proxy server, firewall etc. setup I've seen in a long time - took less than 15 mins to bypass it all without the ability for anybody to tell.

    Anon for ob reasons and as I cannot choose an icon now I'll say it would have been a big FAIL icon for the wasted efforts that people put into stopping it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Game...

    ...Always then becomes one of blocking the holes that the hard core of users find as workarounds rather than the act of blocking the destination booty. It's generally not worth bothering with them beyond a half-days work because for 90pc of users, the destination simply stops working.

    Here's a couple, if like me you don't have anything specialised beyond an ASA FW:

    Write regex pattern matches for the domains, IP ranges, proxies, DNS

    Can't inspect SSL generally

    Redirect DNS to if you run internal DNS

    On a TS platform, say, prevent changes to external DNS, local hosts etc.

    If you run full BGP, deny the destination prefix super-blocks from the relevant RIR or route to discard.

    CEO at my last company was quite clever. He made friends with everyone on Facebook and just checked status changes then walked to my desk said "they are using the Book of AIDS - please block it"!

    I told him I'd think up a few tricks as a technical exercise and wouldn't spend more than half a day doing it.

    And then we were done!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021