Admittedly, I was late to the game.

When I finally created a Facebook account +/- one month ago, I was shocked to see all of the people from various phases of my life who’d beat me there. There were childhood friends, high school and college friends, colleagues from all of the different professional positions I’ve held, even family members. I was hooked right away. I know it’s not a competition, but my 86 Facebook friends definitely make me more invested in the site.

What’s more, my job as community manager of OpenDNS is to do just that – have a hand in everything that touches our awesome community. Imagine my surprise to find the group OpenDNS is the Stuff with forty-something members and a moderator whose name I didn’t recognize. (No doubt the coolest Facebook group. If you haven’t yet joined, you really should.) The fact that the group was born outside of our doing is great, but just because I didn’t build it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to be a part of it. I scanned the members, got familiar, intro’d myself to the moderator. And these things take time.

This is all ironic, of course, since I work for a company that blocks Facebook for thousands of businesses, organizations and households around the world. We did a survey recently and found that Facebook was the No. 2 most blocked domain on OpenDNS-using networks. (I’ll give you three guesses what the No. 1 most blocked domain was.) Since I’ve been using Facebook I’ve seen that the site is not unsafe for adults like me. No, not at all. But it does make me unproductive. Someone in my position, with my enthusiasm for Facebook, could easily pass a few hours during the workday tending to their account.

When we launched Web content filtering we weren’t sure who, besides parents and network admins at schools and libraries, would use it. Not everyone wants to be a censor. But I think my Facebook fixation and my acknowledgement that [me + work + Facebook = work not done] is pretty representative. When you’re on the clock, sites like Facebook can be a serious distraction. What you do on your own time, off the clock, is up to you.

  • Lisa

    Agreed—I’m an avid facebooker and it undoubtedly occupies too much of my time every day. But, I can say that through my ever growing network on fb I’ve been able to find out about new and exciting industry events relevant to me and my company much faster and easier than through the web. And, the lists of attendees is publicly posted so I know well in advance whether or not the event is worth my time.

  • Thássius

    Here in Brazil or we block Orkut (the most used social network) or we have a lot of employees reading profiles or chatting via scraps.

  • JB Fields

    I’m not convinced that the productivity problem is as bad as we are inclined to think. Work is a social activity. Many of us are in jobs that require creativity. Expecting humans to work well on a production line may be a minor form of tyranny. The job that does not permit personal phonecalls or use of the copier for the odd legal document may be missing the boat.

    Part of the value of human workers is their social capabilities: who they know and can get answers from informally rather than a company having to hire and pay a consultant.

    If employees are not treated well, and all things are relative, moral is not going to be a competitive advantage. Even if they are playing solitaire, I have to ask what I need to do to get them more interested in their work. If it something that they are doing while waiting on hold and does not amount to much, why should I care?

  • Ben Johns

    I know it’s a bit odd but Facebook has become somewhat adopted by our organisation and is used both as a social and business tool.

    One such example is that we use the ’causes’ application – as we’re a primary sponsor of the Wildlife Warriors. A viral like social network makes an excellent avenue for raising awareness. Marketing and Web also use it to advertise our special events such as Steve Irwin Day.

    Another use is that it boosts staff morale and brings people closer without having those awkward ‘team building sessions’.

    So while it can be a productivity sink it does have beneficial purposes and as long as people aren’t sitting on it all day everyday its use is tolerated.

  • Rajib Ghosh

    Facebook, MySpace, Orkut … and a growing number of other sites can become a serious problems for Network Administrators and Project Managers.

    Apart from the fact that employees personal interests on company time is heavily frowned upon, certain groups/forums within these sites host content that is adult-oriented.

    In a workplace that also features a fair number of women, adult-oriented websites flashing on computer screens can later result in sexual harassment claims.

    To be on the safer side, we use the ‘custom block list’ on OpenDNS to tailor sites that we deem could potentially land the organization in trouble later on. Bit like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

  • Alvaro Gilabert

    One year later, the group has more than 300 fans.
    Way to go!

  • George K

    Is there any talk of increasing the size of the whitelist? 25 sites is pretty limiting given how many sites are out there.

  • Wayfarer

    I have facebook whitelisted. I have been using opendns for some time now. Just recently, facebook started loading strangely, text fields are there, but no tables or graphics are loading. Only certain links are working. When I go back to the Roadrunner (Time Warner) dns servers the issue goes away. I do not want to be without the opendns servers. Has anyone else experienced this? I have tried clearing browser cache, flushing dns, refreshing tcp/ip protocols, etc. The issue still continues to plague me.

  • Computer Blog

    My cousin would appreciate this post. We were just talking about this. lol

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