SA companies block Facebook
Johannesburg – South African companies are beginning to follow their international counterparts in blocking workers’ access to popular social networking site Facebook.
They cite concerns over productivity – but some experts defend the site, saying it holds huge potential as a business tool.
Standard Bank is among those who have moved to include it on its list of the company’s blocked leisure sites to prevent people spending non-productive time on non-work related issues, said bank spokesperson Erik Larson.
And, according to Absa, the banking group has done the same although it will consider access based on individual requests.
“We don’t see any business need for Absa staff to access the site,” said a spokesperson.
“Under certain circumstances we do grant permission to have access, but look at each case on merit so they are not totally cut off.”
Facebook users also report that Wesbank and a number of smaller companies are following this trend.
According to the site’s own research, its 31 million active users spend an average of 20 minutes a day interacting with their “friends”.
But, most newcomers to the phenomenon, which has at least 170 000 users on the South African network, say they are addicted and spend far more than that interacting with their “friends” locally and globally.
First of all, let me just point out how uninformed & uneducated policy makers are in most corporates, perhaps especially in South Africa, with regard to the Internet. The Internet exists, and PC’s are just once way of accessing it. There are more mobile users in South Africa (30m+) with GPRS/3G/EDGE/HSDPA Internet connections that there are PC connections (c. 4m). What are corporates going to do now, stop people from accessing Facebook on their mobile phones (http://m.facebook.com)? This is the most ridiculous thing I ever seen, and typically, these knee-jerk reactions are due to a lack of understanding of this space, more than anything else, by the corporate policy makers and IT personnel.
Also, I don’t buy the argument that Facebook is a business tool – yes, I do use it for business, but far less so than LinkedIn. It’s a social tool – but will prohibition help, probably not. Can Facebook become a business tool – yes, if adopted by the company. I had a conversation tonight with some people from incuBeta, and we discussed the fact that incuBeta has a FaceBook group, and if the correct privacy issues and security issues were put to rest (Facebook has a corporate unfriendly policy regarding uploaded content), then Facebook could replace a company’s Intranet – this is potentially something that has been overlooked by many companies. Even with the current policy, it can increase communications between staff members.
After many meetings held this week, I’m constantly amazed at the lack of depth of knowledge there is around the Internet in corporate South Africa (and after seeing a Typewriter being used by one of the secretaries of a US publication in New York a few months ago, I’m not sure if it’s just us!). Companies need to wake up and start educating their leaders as to how technological change is going to affect the workplace, and how to deal with it properly. Knee-jerk, uninformed, close-minded decisions are indicative of a species of humanity that cannot evolve!
Facebook usage in companies should be monitored on an individual basis, and those who exceed fair usage, should be reprimanded. To institute all out corporate bans points to a lack of control within a company, and probably means that the employees don’t have much work to do, or are not being monitored for performance – either of which should lead to retrenchment or dismissal. Deal with the cause of the problems, not the symptoms!