Civil servants have been banned from using Facebook, but can still use Twitter and LinkedIn for work
The government has revealed that civil servants have been banned from accessing Facebook, but they are allowed to use Twitter and LinkedIn, providing it is for work reasons.
The government’s decision came to light after a report by the Press Association (PA) which said that staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can access certain social networking websites from their office computers, but only for work reasons.
“The department recognises social media is a valuable tool for engaging with jobseekers and partners,” PA quoted Employment Minister Chris Grayling as saying.
Facebook No, Twitter Yes
“All staff have access to LinkedIn and Twitter for business use and the department actively uses social networking to communicate with customers,” Grayling reportedly said. “Access to some Internet sites from departmental computers is restricted or blocked. This includes Facebook.”
However it seems that not all civil servants are banned from Facebook. Grayling said that workers in the communications department can still log on to Facebook because their roles “involve use of social media”.
Grayling’s revelations came after a written Parliamentary question from East Dunbartonshire Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson.
A spokeswoman for the DWP, speaking to eWEEK Europe UK, confirmed Grayling’s comments were accurate, and that a ban did indeed exist for civil servants in that department.
Grayling did not say how the civil servant’s Internet usage was monitored to ensure social media sites are only used for work purposes.
Social Networking Bans
Earlier this week a survey of British companies by security firm Clearswift found nearly a third (ie, one in three) are blocking employees from accessing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
This is up 20 percent from last year, according to the study, and 53 percent of managers identified social network use as an issue of concern. Clearswift said that the reason for the ban is the fear it could lead to data breaches. This has apparently made UK businesses nervous about social media in the workplace.
Meanwhile, eWEEK Europe UK’s own survey of readers in July found that LinkedIn was the social network of choice, followed by Google+ and then Facebook. However, earlier in the year readers said that social networks were a waste of time.
During the London riots, the government faced calls from some MPs to temporarily shut down access to social networking websites, over fears they were being used to organise riots and co-ordinate other criminal behaviour. After initial consideration by Prime Minister David Cameron, the plea was rejected.