September 27th, 2010
04:28 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Are Web 2.0 applications money makers or time wasters?

The results of a global survey by computer anti-virus giant McAfee suggests it’s both.

A survey of 1,000 executives from 17 countries stretching from Japan to India, the UK to Brazil, found that three of four organizations use social media sites for marketing and customer service, or for “crowdsourcing” instead of outsourcing projects and tasks.

Developing markets such as Brazil, India, the United Arab Emirate and Mexico are more likely to view Web 2.0 as a potential revenue stream.

However, nearly half the companies surveyed prohibited Facebook use during company hours  –  the larger the corporation, the more likely the prohibition. About a quarter of companies monitor employee use of social media site for inappropriate behavior.

One reason companies are leery of employees using social networking sites is the growing number of malicious software that is transmitted on Web 2.0 applications. Seven of 10 organizations surveyed lost around $2 million last year  because of  security problems, the McAfee report said.

While IT specialists in the survey favored blocking social media sites due to security risks, Web 2.0 industry analysts think such policies place companies at a competitive disadvantage. In the report, consultant Shel Holtz argued that social connections are important for marketing, recruitment, testing ideas and getting quick feedback. Blocking access “is the laziest way around the problem,” Holtz said in the report.

Executives usually suspect that new technologies will result in employees slacking off.

“When American businesses after WWII started thinking about rolling out telephones on everyone’s desks, the biggest objection that was raised by senior managers, who already had telephones, was that everyone was going to use these phone for personal use,” Analyst Stowe Boyd said in the report. “They were going to call mom; they were going to gossip.”

Still, does posting the latest photos for Mom on Facebook help productivity? Does Facebook and Twitter distract or add to your working life?

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. dangdangdang

    i m a chinese and here we use qq or renren(literally means "person with person"in chinese) something just like facebook through which you can share or transmit your opinion and your photos with others as well.Just like wherever people enjoy internet, we use it not just for working but also for funny especilly communicating with our frindes.however,the difference is that we here don't take it seriously that it is the work time and you have to concentarte yourself just on your task without being distractede by anything else,for when we can accomplish our task on time,why can't we spend a little time on something like communicating with our friends just for a relax?the only thing a boss need to pay attention to is not whether the employee is on their work but the result and quality of their work

    September 27, 2010 at 5:17 am |
  2. Rajesh Chaudhary

    It depends on for what puprpose the employees are using the social networking site for. If the histories of the use is to be maintained; then I think, it is not necessary to ban but instead it will boost the companys' business plans and helps the company to reach the costumer in more close manner.

    September 27, 2010 at 6:18 am |
  3. Tom

    With my personal experience as an employee, it distract your from your work gossip messages, wall posts, games, chat etc. Contribution from Facebook to productivity is a negative value unless you are a search engine marketer.

    September 27, 2010 at 6:23 am |
  4. Nate

    I can tell you this. I have been in the Army 12 years and the US Goverment blocks more cites then I have ever seen. Having said that we are aloud to use Facebook!

    September 27, 2010 at 6:31 am |
  5. Ahmed

    Work time is for work. Facebook really consumes lot of time. This should not bother me anymore though as I permanently shut my FB account.

    September 27, 2010 at 7:07 am |
  6. iwillcomebackyet

    I come from Uzbekistan, where social websites are not banned in most of the workplaces. However, i believe it should depend on the type of the organization: if it is pay per results, then sure, employees should be able to do what they want, you got the result you got paid, and how you did it is your choice. On the other hand, if the organization is paying per hours, and an employee is required to get as much done as possible during those hours, it is unfair that they can spend time on social websites. Nonetheless, i agree that there is a group of professions (such as R&D, marketing and sometimes HR) that have to use such websites for work purposes. In this case, the organizations should come up with a way of controlling the usage of those social websites.
    To say the least, i would understand if employers were getting worried about the time their employees spend on social websites, they are raising in popularity.

    September 27, 2010 at 7:13 am |
  7. one and zero lotto

    employee can use facebook, its not bad

    September 27, 2010 at 7:18 am |
  8. Skyluke

    I think FB should not be band~

    September 27, 2010 at 7:28 am |
  9. Jens HKG

    Yes, The Chinese Government blocks Facebook alltogether because it is , like all dictatorships, so afraid of freeflowing information. Yet another reason that China should have never been awarded the olympic games or the world expo.

    September 27, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  10. Dan Smith

    Some people have more addictive personalities than others. I think a company gets more work from those people if it bans access to facebook/farmville etc. The non-addictive people do the same work either way, so there is a net gain by banning facebook.

    September 27, 2010 at 8:12 am |
  11. hilson mergulhão breckenfeld filho

    what for ? facebook is a great step for social networks and should more using

    September 27, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  12. Sunny

    I personally feel that facebook is more of a distraction rather than a business tool. Agreed that it can help with marketing, but I feel the marketing FB is targeting is based more upon retail businesses such as restaurants or Spas, not really for corporations that rely on back office work.

    I also feel productivity and unproductivity depends solely upon the individual, however the probability that people will log into social networking sites is higher due to the easier access. The reason for logging into social network sites during work is to keep in touch with your friend circles or gossip, not really for work.

    I think a ban on FB during work would increase productivity in the workplace.

    September 27, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  13. ykdrm88

    i think, the most important thing is not to ban but to develop the system to control the usage of it. Company should formulate the management system to help their employees learn adequate usage in line with compliance. Also they should make some guidelines to post the comments or photos on it.

    September 27, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  14. Tim

    If an employee has a tendency to not concentrate on his job it really doesn't matter. Regardless of the outlet the time will be wasted. If not FB it will be looking out the window. On the other hand an employee that does concentrate on his work can have the ability to get personal information that may be distracting him otherwise if he can not communicate with the outside world. So, to ban it company wide could be a bigger problem than allowing it. Of course taking for granted that you have a larger majority that work than do not.

    September 27, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  15. IT makes it possible

    For Network administrator, controlling internet traffic is a challenge where bandwidth is available in KBPS.

    Blocking FACEBOOK makes a big difference in the internet traffic in the office.

    Nothing against FACEBOOK.

    September 27, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  16. Rohit

    It should be allowed in certain departments like Advertising, Sales and Marketing. Other employees don't need Facebook during work. It is definitely a distraction even though you are the one working but everyone around you is checking out some hottie on FB!

    September 27, 2010 at 9:10 am |
  17. gis-L

    An employee first of all needs to understand that work is priority when you are in office.

    I don't feel that facebook and twitter needs to be banned at work because nowadays it is not just used for personal fun but for building contacts and networking for professional gains.

    I used to spend some time on it myself in office. Eventually i got so busy and fed up of visiting these sites that i completely stopped visiting by myself.

    We don't need someone to do the policing work at all times for petty reasons, unless it impacts your work. If an employee is aware of his/her time they will automatically give up and stop visiting such sites.

    For a place where i live at present, majority of the population are expats and they all keep in touch with their dear ones online, so if you block it, it would backfire in terms of boredom at work, in a way this would also affect the morale of the employees.

    September 27, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  18. Abidin

    Can you do that? Even if the company ban those sites through their internal corporate system; everybody has their own access on their handset. How could you control?

    September 27, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  19. Jacob

    I think FB is a great way to interact not only with friends and family but also with clients. I make corporate videos (not the boring type, but the more funny type) which in some cases are uploaded via Youtube, so we can share it on FB. It is an excellent way to get exposure through our connections, which has already brought in new clients.

    September 27, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  20. Julius Kithinji

    Its all about self-control...and the use of facebook at work requires it. Though at times its part of the work to fb

    September 27, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  21. Cienna

    The company I work for has a Facebook account. But ironically, FB access is not allowed at work. I'm not on FB, so not having access at work doesn't bother me. What bothers me though, is that other sites that are associated with FB, such as CNN – where you can write comments on articles, are no longer accessible at work. Ie, the 'to post a comments' section is blocked at work.

    So 'Thanks FB' (NOT).

    September 27, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  22. Felix

    I have long suggested that facebook be set up to be a Microsoft Office package (much like OUTLOOK).

    There is no way that such innovativity and its benefits can be excluded from work.Its a mandatory tool in companies with remote branches.

    The only thing required is to LOCALISE the security and privacy of the OpenGraph for work purposes unlike for privtate purporses.

    If Mark and the Developer Garage can fix this...There is no stoping facebook.

    Its got strong grip also on Cybersecurity.I see a lot of its solutions to the problem of internet identity.

    Collaborate with me

    September 27, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  23. Mofongo101

    I am an American who has been living and working in Europe for over 12 years. I have experience working in the corporate world from all over the world. I must that companies should stop looking for reasons to make the place of work to look more like a PRISON. Denying the use of some fun programs at work is childish. I work for a firm where we can surf the net anytime we want and do whatever we want. This does not affect our productivity, staff is more happy knowing that a place of work is a fun place to be.

    September 27, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  24. marky

    I think most HRD dept use facebook now to review new hirings, its easy to see if these people are party animals pot head prior to hiring them... so yes the work place will use facebook...

    September 27, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  25. Sue

    I think it depends a lot on appropriate use: I used twitter in the same way many take a smoke or tea/coffee break from work before it was blocked. I feel that it helped me re-focus and I was able to take a one minute mental break then get back on target. I catch myself staring out the window more now, or spending time on the BBC/CNN news sites which actually take up MORE time than a quick 'whats happening?' check on twitter. (like now!)
    Equally using social sites during your lunch break should be allowed.
    However I do recognise this depends on employees not [a] taking the micky and abusing the privilage and [b] not clicking on any old link and getting a virus.

    In short: Employees should be trusted, but also show they are trustworthy, when it comes to social sites.

    September 27, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  26. Eugene Williams

    no matter how you block Facebook, employees will find ways to surf FB via their blackberry, smartphones, and even mobile modems (plug and play) for their notebook / PCs.

    a strong policy must be in place, and FB is now needed for companies which needs to do Marketing, HR etc. so you have to go by exception basis and business case. what is a company doing without FB, Twitter etc in this modern era now? as such, it's also good to inform the staffs that they should not use FB too long (i.e put in a monitoring controls in place), and it's based on mutual trust. As long as the work gets done, it is OK to let them use it.

    most staff will go FB and end up playing farmville, and there goes your productivity down the line.

    there are pro and cons in this, accept it or deny it. the management decides.

    ultimately, go back to your house and use your own computer to surf FB, end of story.

    September 27, 2010 at 10:53 am |
  27. Leon

    Whether it be Facebook, coffee or just regular colleague interaction, if someone wants to take a break from work, they will.

    I believe Facebook should be available to employees, perhaps if they use proxy programs, make it available per internal IP for a certain amount of time per day as an incentive program.

    September 27, 2010 at 10:57 am |
  28. ikraam

    FACEBOOK can be argued on both could add value and cause severe damages to company's solely rests in the hands of the long they r on and for what purpose are they on facebook..............

    September 27, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  29. David

    What everybody seems to forget is that the easiest way to use FB is on the iPhone or other smartphone. And more and more people do so as smartphones conquer the world. So I don't mind if my employer blocks FB on my desktop pc.

    So this article really is a non issue I think...

    September 27, 2010 at 11:19 am |
  30. sih10

    Yes, facebook should be banned on work to keep the employees focused!

    September 27, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  31. Ayubx

    It does become a nuisance if an employee abuses the freedom to browse social sites at the work place. I personally make sure i dont go overboard with posting or interacting on social websites. The flaw here would be the assumption that the employee is responsioble enough to make such a decision. The ideal solution would be monitoring user websurf and take action on those deemed to be "abusing" the service.

    September 27, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  32. Jmarcos

    It is useless to ban facebook at work since workers (as some people wrote here) will find a way or another to use it again.
    If Facebook or twitter affect a worker professional results, then the employer should not ban these social networks but the WORKER.

    September 27, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  33. Sam

    Repression very seldom works changes on people's behavior. Setting up some rules sounds more reasonable and will be more accepted by those targeted.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  34. Ravi

    It should be banned and it should not be allowed

    September 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm |
  35. snow webster

    i think an employer would be fulish to even consider,allowing their staff to have freedom...whilst at work to be able to go on to chat sights during work period,it would take up alot of company time,an then the company could suffer if an employee was misusing company equipment for personal use....

    September 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  36. žęşşí đЁ VąMÞ

    if facebook banned at work , its not a problem ,their are many differen tways to link with facebook..any one who use hotmail can easily check the latest updates on facebook comment they can comment friend status, can check friends photos, by using hotmail ,aslo mig33 and msn latest version helps to chatb with facebook online friends.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm |
  37. Ggirl

    Facebook is a distraction at work. Plain & simple. I'm personally glad they've banned it here. My work was not top-notch and I was constantly distracted by chat, notifications etc. Not good.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  38. Ringo

    I am at work right now and Facebook is allowed. BUT, the workers here are not on Facebook wasting their time, they are on So this brings up the point that there is the entire internet where people can 'slack off' on. So what if I choose to slack off on CNN rather than Facebook? or ESPN or some other website that hosts a forum for a hobby that I do. The internet is here people, companies have to embrace that fact. Just by blocking a certain site, doesnt mean that Google isnt going to find them another one to waste their time on. So why bother?And personally, if I do my job on time and in a quality manner then why can't I be on Facebook or whatever website for 15 minutes? Any company that gives such a big deal over that is no company I want to work for in the first place. We all know that your boss and your bosses boss does the same thing, may not be Facebook they are looking at but some other website not related to their work, NYTimes, CNN, local newspaper online, Money magazine online or what have you. I think a bit of relaxation mixed into the workday makes for a more productive employee than a micromanaged sweatshop.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  39. thomas james thorstensson

    I don't use Facebook or Twitter, I consider these things not healthy for your mental development. We live in an oversocialized world where bullshit grows in plenty.

    I work as a webdeveloper, but up until the late 80's I didn't have an email address until my girlfriend back then set one up for me.

    I recall people having much more genuine conversations. And not being so monitored/obsessed with obsolete bullshit.

    There are good places, like Stumble upon, Linkedin, professional or newsworthy places.

    But as a chess player slash humanist slash techie slash well read person, I don't need to be told what to like, what to post, or to advertize myself and be kept a record upon in return.

    I give the finger to it all and keep my dreams intact, unchanged.

    Faaak off,

    Thomas James T

    September 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  40. justin

    if your serious about your work ethic, Facebook should be left for your AFTER work activities.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  41. bear0402

    Facebook is already blocked where I work, so I don't see the big deal of not being able to access it while at work.

    September 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  42. Wall-E

    I think it is laughable that there are concerns about productivity if facebook is allowed. When we are here blogging about it. Yeah we share no pictures but truely whats the difference they all seem to distract from the bottom line. I believe as human beings living in the times we do we will find a distraction it doesn't have to be facebook!

    September 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  43. Cris Aquino

    I'm Cris from the Philippines. Here Facebook is like cellphone, everybody uses it even kids. Nothing against Facebook. The company can actually make it useful if they will think of it wisely. It should not be banned. It will depend on the upbringing of the company to their employees.

    September 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  44. Usama Bin Ladin

    facebook should be banned for all time, because facebook create anger between muslim and non muslim, and twitter should only banned on work. Bin Ladin (G)

    September 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  45. Antje

    Off course it should be banned.
    It worse than watching TV while driving a car. Too stupid to think it can be done. Or imagine your dentist or hairdresser watching TV while working on on. Would you go back to the same guy/gal ?
    So why should it be accepted at other places?

    September 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  46. Albert

    Actually, it would be of positive change to stop facebook, twitter etc during working hours but not totally banned. Its effect on organisations, companies of various responsibilities have put off (fired) its staff due to this course.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  47. wsp

    I'm an agent in the model/talent industry and use FB for many reasons. Communicating with talent about jobs, headshots, etc. It should be the employer's choice on whether to ban FB from their employees.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  48. William B. Doyle

    FB and productivity do not mix. Ban FB. 'Nuff said.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  49. OceanKayak

    A major problem with toy services such as Facebook and Twitter in the workplace is the way they are utilized by supposed professional organizations. Nothing screams amateur hour to me like encountering businesses that spend their time and money maintaining a presence on social networks. If I see a facebook or twitter reference regarding a potential business partner all it says to me is that these people are lazy corner cutters and not worth my time to do business with.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
  50. Dave

    Too late for that. Any idiot with a smartphone will just go in the restroom and poke their friends with the rest of them.

    September 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm |
  51. Sickofit

    From what I have seen Facebook is nothing but trouble! I have watched kids being bullied on Facebook. I have watched people having marriage problems because of things that were said on Facebook. I have seen employees who are all but useless because they spend all day messing with Facebook. Facebook is one of the greatest time wasters ever invented! Not since MySpace has there been a more useless way to pass the time. My employees are informed from the start that if they are caught wasting my companies time on a useless social networking site, they will be terminated. I think we would all be better off if these type of sites were completely eliminated!

    September 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    Facebook could be blocked at the workplace, but there is no doubt users would find a way through proxies some sort of bypass. Let it open or better yet, put video cams to watch productivity or tell employees to use it during breaks.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  53. Blue

    Would you pay someone to use facebook? Then why should your employers?

    September 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  54. BB

    Whether the company bans facebook or no, I still have Iphone, Blackberry, Ipad and so on, so it isn't important to me if access is not allowed in the office. I strongly believe It's my OWN responsability to be productive and work to reach company goals but that doesn't mean I have to be a SLAVE 'cause I spend more time infront of the computer than with my family and friends. If things were better balanced I wouldn't have to use facebook to have a social life.....

    September 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  55. Alberto Chain

    I do work at mid management level, I do hate social worksites, and do not use them, these should be prohibited, since all the gossip I received on a daily basis is base on post by Facebook users in my case. So we can see that people are investing a lot of time on these sites.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  56. Carole

    I can access FB at work; and I do, occasionally. Most of the time I think it's a huge waste of time and I would rather be doing something more constructive, i.e., reading the news, checking out opinion blogs, etc. I'm sure some people consider that a waste of time, also. To each his own.
    We spend entirely too much time on the computer. My husband logs onto FB in the evenings and is on for the entire evening. It's a huge waste of time that accomplishes absolutely nothing. I don't twitter because I don't see the point.

    September 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  57. Vincent Hor

    Intention must be justified with purpose.
    The facilities are designed to ease specific functions, for eg future communication or business publicity etc.
    If an employee becomes unproductive at workplace due to spending too much time on these social medias, thus it's negative.

    September 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  58. All Internet Access Should Be Restricted

    At Google support forums some business or government employee is asking how to get around security so they can play on the internet.

    I hate walking into a business and being ignored because they are playing on the internet.

    Why does it make sense for a government employee to ask a taxpayer how to get out of doing their job?

    September 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  59. lela

    Old Tbilisi Georgia

    September 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  60. ForgetIt

    if you like, use it, if not, forget it...

    September 28, 2010 at 4:52 am |
  61. Lenn Dolling

    I know when I was in a cubicle for a duration before I was able to flap my wings and arrive in my own dev lab I was forced to find ways of getting past the corporate firewalls to access even a little scap of reading matterial.. let alone material to do my job...

    About some of you guys saying that you should be allowed to socialize.... you have to socialize on your OWN TIME. Get to work.

    .... some jobs are just way too boring i understand. you need to find a job where you are so focused that you want to be there and produce!! actually be apart of the team and create value; not reduce it.

    if you think your job sucks... STAND UP RIGHT NOW AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

    I wrote a book on finding shortcuts.. hahah

    "At Arms Reach"

    Lenn Dolling
    88Calls, Founder/CEO
    Skyboard Software, Co-Founder/CEO

    September 28, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  62. Doris Noel

    I seriously thought Facebook and Twitter were banned at work. After all which employer would grant salary to a worker for him or her to abuse or waste time for which he is paid. I think that personal e-mail should also be banished.

    Think about how production would increase if these were not tolerated.


    Doris Noel

    September 30, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  63. alvin quintela

    For me prohibition of using FB and twitter on the job is not a good solution.I can breach the system and still use this web 2.0 application.Educating the people on good usage for these social sites is a good approach...

    October 4, 2010 at 4:34 am |
  64. The Dude

    pretty hard to ban something that employees can do from your mobile phone... don't see anything wrong with banning it from the corporate network though.

    October 4, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  65. George

    Companies may block fb on their IT system but people use phones to surf.

    Apart from malicious software, there is a danger of losing productivity time on fb.

    And there is also a reputation risk for companies as some people have said things they should never have said about fellow employees, bosses, or customers and suppliers.

    Management decides, deal with it! Go surf at home.

    October 7, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  66. jules

    It's banned in MANY schools because it distracts students and discourages learning. It should have the same attitude in the workplace.

    October 14, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  67. Kiril

    Some studies have shown that workers spend around 38 minutes a days on facebook. Calculate then how much time is wasted on facebook per week, per month... I have limited access to facebook in my company but in specific times so that workers can access to facebook during the lunch time or break, that is important for them. I use software called facebook limiter to block facebook on specific times.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:13 am |
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