Should Facebook Be Blocked at Work ?
So do you think it’s legitimate to use Facebook at work? Is it ok to spend an hour or two catching up with friends in your lunch hour or is it strictly a leisure time site.
A couple of people who read my post about how you can get passed facebook blocks at work got a bit annoyed about me suggesting it should be banned. Although this is not surprising as the comments were from my friends who are a pretty anarchic lot and would get upset if they were banned from invading Burma. I suspect the phrases ‘infringing on my democratic rights’ and ‘subverting the masses’ might be used.
I mean I hate filtering and censorship more than most people, but really if I was paying someone to do a job and they instead spent thirty hours a week messing about on FB then I have to say I’d be pretty annoyed. So although I hate the blocking aspect I think an employer has the right to do this within reason.
After all this afternoon I opened up Facebook and was confronted by this rather witty post –
Now if you can try and focus on the caption below it’s rather witty, but I think most of us would recognise that having images popping up like that on your screen at work is probably not that appropriate. The problem is that the image is from a wall post and you have little control about what appears there. If that image popped up on your brand new 40″ LCD monitor – there’s a very real chance someone would take offence.
The Problem With Filtering is The Technology
Of course that particular image may get blocked anyway even if you don’t specifically target certain web sites. Many of the advanced content filters make assessments on each image that is downloaded. So the algorithm might for instance assess the number of flesh colored pixels and block on that basis. Certainly the market leaders have this facility although you can see massive problems in this as well. After all the lady from our Facebook picture seems to have forgotten her underwear but to be fair her impressive behind has very few flesh colored pixels on display (umm).
So the following picture would definitely trigger the flesh pixel trigger on some content filters I’ve used.
Although most of us won’t find that terribly erotic ( although the world is wonderfully diverse and it’s great that someone will!) – it will likely trigger the erotic/porn filter on many filters. Algorithms aren’t great at this sort of stuff, they miss things – lines of code deciding what you can or can’t do is never going to be that desirable.
After all if you’ve got a dirty mind ( I confess I have) then you would presume masses of flesh colored pixels would mean PORN. But it’s not always the case as I hope the above picture illustrates – it’s not that clear cut – just like life!
Censorship should be restricted in my opinion to genuinely criminal or illegal stuff, otherwise you just start on that road of banning things that are embarrassing, inconvenient or you’d just rather keep quiet about. It’s certainly not a basis of democracy, and nobody will die from seeing a slim, pert behind climbing into a helicopter!
The solution in my opinion at least for work is a simple Internet Usage policy which relies on people’s common sense. Let employees use the internet in their own time for ordinary tasks – don’t overly restrict but make it clear that you should have consideration for your fellow workers, don’t access porn, gamble or run a far right political party at work. You can do that at home, or travelling home on the train with your smart phone.
Ok some times jobs are just too boring without some sort of distraction – so if you want to access Facebook even if it’s blocked – check this post on proxy avoidance about half way down there’s a link to download the demo version of Identity Cloaker which is free and works for Facebook and a few other sites.
It’s demonstrated on this video –
If you just want a Facebook Unblocker then there’s nothing to beat it, also works with Twitter at the time of writing (December 2013)