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Facebook banned in Government department

Almost all staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are banned from using Facebook, the Government has said.13 Sep 2011

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said that, whilst Facebook is banned from use for all but some communications staff at the DWP, workers can use micro-blogging site Twitter and professional networking site LinkedIn for business.

"The department recognises social media is a valuable tool for engaging with jobseekers and partners," Grayling said in a written answer in Parliament.

"All staff have access to LinkedIn and Twitter for business use and the department does actively use social networking to communicate with customers, for example through the ‘Job Coach’ on Linkedin aimed at unemployed professionals. Access to some internet sites from departmental computers is restricted or blocked. This includes Facebook. However, access has been provided to staff in communications roles where their roles involve use of social media," Grayling said.

The Employment Minister made his comments in response to a question from Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson. The representative for East Dunbartonshire had asked Grayling whether Jobcentre Plus staff had access to social networking sites "that are intended to assist with job searches".

Grayling said ways to make better use of social networking by Jobcentre Plus staff were being considered, but said that it was also up to the unemployed to make use of the tools "independently".

"The blocking of access Facebook in the DWP is not surprising given the increasing concerns that employers have about the amount of time wasted by employees using social media sites during working hours", said Claire McCracken, technology law specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

"Employers are also nervous about the potential damage misuse of these sites can cause. Recent figures show that almost a third of UK companies block or discourage the use of social media access in the workplace. With the growth in the use of these platforms comes the increased risk of reputational damage, including security breaches. Many employers feel the need to take such action. At the very least they should ensure that they have a social media use policy in place", McCracken said.