Majority of Companies Block Social Networking

by on 19/10/2009

I’ve written before (see here) about the recent Citibank survey which found that the majority of SMEs do not find social networking sites helpful.

A new survey from the international law firm Fulbright and Jaworski shows that 52 per cent of UK companies block social networking sites, while two in five UK businesses block personal social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Business related networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo are blocked by 30 per cent of UK companies.

The report highlights one reason why firms choose to ban social networking sites – the legal risks of allowing employees access. 18% of UK companies had been asked to provide information from these sites as part of an “electronic discovery” request in legal proceedings. Companies fear these requests for information, and SMEs are extremely unlikely to have the systems in place to track social networking posts in order to be able to provide the information. Add this to the risk that employees will divulge confidential information, and the possibility of regulatory fines if they do so, and we see why blocking these sites is the easy option for most companies.

Is it right to block access to social networking sites?

The counter argument that social networking sites are useful for research and information gathering and are more effective methods for quick communication is a powerful one, but until the intrinsic difficulties of controlling and audit what is posted are solved, companies should consider long and hard whether the undoubted benefits outweigh the reputation and financial risk.

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