One in Two U.K. Companies Block Social Networking Web Sites

fulbright trends

Fulbright & Jaworski, the international law firm, just published their 6th Annual Litigation Trends Survey Report. It is an independent survey of senior corporate counsel from a wide range of industry sectors.

About half of the respondents (52% of U.K. and 46% of U.S.) claim to block employees from accessing social networking Web sites. Two in five of all corporates (42%) block the most popular personal social networking sites (such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo) and 30% block business-related networking sites (LinkedIn and Plaxo). The YouTube web site is also blocked by more than a third of companies (37%).

Only 1/3 of the companies reported that they have no restrictions on access. Technology companies are the least likely to block social networking sites, with 56% of all tech companies saying they have no restrictions on such sites.

I found it interesting that 18% of U.K. companies have been asked to produce electronic information from such web sites as part of an electronic discovery request in legal proceedings.

Melanie Ryan, a Fulbright partner, commented, “For some businesses, networking sites can provide an efficient platform for keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and maintaining a profile in their industry. For those businesses that block access, such benefits are outweighed by the possible legal risks, including the inadvertent disclosure of confidential or proprietary information and the resulting claims or fines imposed by their regulators – not to mention, the security threat to their IT systems.”

But do they have a policy in place to let employees know what they should not be doing on these sites? Or are employees just doing those bad things at home or on their iPhone?

Blocking is not an effective policy.


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5 Responses to One in Two U.K. Companies Block Social Networking Web Sites

  1. ortlieb October 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    I think that it is right to block it at work. We are at wort to work and not to socialize. At my office they wasn’t blocked till the beginnig of this year. It was a inferno. The people didn’t work properly. They were the whole time in a social web site chatting…

  2. DLanphear October 19, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Do you really want call center employees and the like on facebook all day instead of actually listening to the customers? Blocking may make sense for many “lower tier” workers while keeping it available to industry professionals as a means of keeping up with the industry. Social Media policy shouldn’t be a “one-size-fits-all” mentality.

    • Doug Cornelius October 20, 2009 at 10:45 am #

      Blocking is not an effective policy. The productivity drain due to web 2.0 sites is not something that I dismiss out of hand. Businesses have some legitimate concerns.

      I can just as easily interact with Facebook on my smartphone as I can on my computer. So blocking just transfers the productivity issues from the work computer to my phone.

      If you allow access, you can monitor usage. If someone is spending hours a day on Facebook, then you know you have a problem.

      Besides the productivity issue, there is also the issues of the employee doing something bad that will affect their employer. Blocking does nothing to address those issues. The flight attendants who bad-mouthed passengers did do so through a work computer. They did it on their own time, on their own computer/phone.

      If you are going to block access, you need to do so in connection with other policies and education of your employees.


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