Why you should block Facebook access at the office

While you're at it, get rid of Twitter, CNN, and the rest of the social networking distractions, too

There's no doubt about it -- Facebook has people's attention this week. With an IPO going live and public stock trading due by Friday, it's no wonder everyone is getting ready for one of the most exciting public offerings to date. A hot IPO doesn't ultimately matter to IT, but the implications of Facebook's business model do.

How's that? The Facebook revenue model is based on self-serve advertising, engagement ads, and games -- all ways that will let employees waste even more time at work while consuming your network resources. Consider the time-wasting nightmare you might be allowing into your company if you unlock those firewalls and let Facebook in. On top of employees updating their timeline and jabbering about life when they should be working, they are also being marketed to and playing Mafia Wars on company time.

[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman explains the fallacy of business social networking. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

Facebook isn't the only time-stealer in your organization. YouTube, Vimeo, and other sites are black holes as well. Even Twitter, which I use for business purposes only, has been a distraction when I needed to fully focus. I decided to try an experiment and place Twitter on a PC other than the one I typically sit at. As a result, I get more work done with less distraction. When I get a cup of coffee, I might check my Twitter feeds, but my mind stays in the game while I'm at my desk.

Then there's CNN. Yes, you heard me -- news sites can be just as distracting. I can spend hours just clicking from one story to the next, looking at tech articles and entertainment articles. Before I realize it, I've lost 30 minutes.

The social "enterprise" network

Some organizations have tried to make social networks work for them by using corporate-only flavors like Yammer, where you can post pictures and announce what you are doing for your business. Even Microsoft's SharePoint has social elements to allow for more company interaction if you use things like the Outlook Social Connector and personal blogs.

Some people would say the use of social technology in business has formed a closer-knit, familylike environment in their company. I've never been a fan of that type of company culture, personally. The problem with having your business personnel act like a family is that it falls apart every time someone has to get fired. You typically can't fire family, no matter how much you wish you could. For example, there's Dave in marketing, who is a little strange at times, but hey, he's one of the family. Now Dave has been fired, which means anyone's neck is on the chopping block next. It's not quite the family you thought it was, is it?

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