I recently had an article on Faceblocking published in the March 2009 issue of Law Practice Magazine: Online Social Networking: Is It a Productivity Bust or Boon for Law Firms?
Steve Matthews helped me conduct an informal poll to see if law firms were still blocking access to social networking sites. Our theory was proven in the results. (You can download the raw survey data (.xls) if you want a look at the underlying data.) Of those responding to the survey, 45% said their firms blocked access to social networking sites. The three most blocked sites: Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. Those are also 3 of the top 10 most visited sites on the web. We also published some of comments from the survey respondents: Speaking Out on Social Networking.
The survey is very unscientific. Steve and I thought that it would be useful to get some data about what law firms are doing about access to social networking sites. I was surprised that 45% of firms blocked access to some social networking sites. Perhaps those working at firms subject to blocking were more likely to respond to the survey. I was also surprised that the 45% blocking percentage was fairly consistent across firm size. So small law firms were just as likely to block access as big firms.
Although I am an advocate of open access, I do so with the caveat that you need to let the people in your organization know what is proper use and to monitor their compliance. I fear that many firms use blockage as their policy. That may have worked 10 years ago, but not today. You can just as easily access these sites from iPhone or blackberry as you can from a firm computer. Blocking does not stop the bad behavior that you are trying to prevent.
You should set sensible policies and set reasonable expectations for your employees. Social networking sites at their core are communications platform. You should be able to adapt your policies on email, confidentiality, marketing and similar policies to easily include social networking sites. If not, those other policies probably need updating anyhow.
- Online Social Networking: Is It a Productivity Bust or Boon for Law Firms? – Article in Law Practice magazine
- Raw Survey Data (.xls) cited in the article
- Speaking Out on Social Networking – selected written comments from survey
- Employers taking chances when blocking Facebook too, says Deacon
- Social Network Site Survey 2008 of summer associates at a big law firm
- Social Network Site Survey 2007 of summer associates at a big law firm
- Twitter in the Workplace by Mike Gotta of Collaborative Thinking
- Blogging / Social Internet Policy for a Law Firm a post from KM Space