Facebook in time-wasting shock

Facebook is good for many things – getting in touch with old friends, sharing photographs, meeting people with similar interests, making youthful entrepreneurs richer than Croesus – but it’s also the scourge of many employers.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

One in seven Facebook users spends their entire working day logged onto the social networking site, according to a new survey from anti-virus company Sophos, while a further 8% are logging on up to ten times a day. In total 60% admitted to regular Facebook usage at work – which doesn’t exactly bode well for productivity.

Facebook, which was recently valued at $15bn, has already signed up 50m users. So if you believe Sophos, that’s about 7m people spending their entire day writing on FunWalls, Poking each other and checking their movie compatibility.

Only 40% claimed they never check the site at work at all, a figure which presumably includes people with either a relaxed attitude to the truth or extremely effective firewalls. Indeed, lots of big employers (including Lloyds TSB, Credit Suisse and Transport for London, according to Sophos) have now blocked the site altogether in a desperate attempt to get their feckless staff to do some work.

We should point out that Sophos’ findings were based on a very small sample (500 users, about 0.001% of all Facebook devotees). And as a firewall software provider, it clearly has a vested interest.

But the problem of internet time-wasting is a very real one. According to employment law specialist Peninsula, 233 million hours UK working hours are lost to social networking sites every month. And it’s not just bad for productivity – employers are also worried about staff doling out sensitive information via their network of ‘friends’. So it’s no surprise that the crack-down has started.

Of course, the one big winner from the UK’s increasing Facebook addiction is likely to be Microsoft, which recently bought a 1.6% stake for $240m. The software giant is gambling that Facebook will become the main portal of many internet users – allowing it to flog millions of adverts and generate vast sums of revenue. Or that’s the theory anyway.

Now if you’ll excuse us – we just need to go and respond to a Super Poke.

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