Why the Facebook ban will be lifted within two years

Post ImageAccording to the Globe and Mail, government employees in Ontario have been banned from accessing Facebook. Kristen at Mashable points out that YouTube, online poker, and various other sites are also banned. And Mark Evans points to this story about TD Bank banning Facebook during business hours. There are undoubtedly many other major organizations that have banned access to Facebook and other social networking sites.

I think these bans are ridiculous. And Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty makes it easy to understand why:

“I think Facebook is predominantly a social network. It has its value, but we just don’t really see how it adds value to work that you do in the workplace.”

You sir, Mr. McGuinty, are an idiot.

When you don’t understand something, the correct course of action is to learn about it. Admit you don’t know something, and then find out what it is that you don’t know!

The idea that work exists only between the hours of 9 to 5, and only in your place of business, is dead. Welcome to the 21st century. Human behaviour has changed, and it’s time that the workplace caught up.

I am reminded of something Leonard Brody said yesterday (I am paraphrasing here):

People often say “oh email, instant messaging, there’s too much information, I can’t take it!” Well, you’re all liars. You thrive on more.

It’s true. Employees today can be incredibly productive, so long as their employers make it possible. Banning them from something like Facebook isn’t going to help. There are no doubt many people working for the Ontario government who are part of an older generation, one that isn’t trained to be connected all the time. Perhaps banning Facebook won’t affect them much.

The ban sets a dangerous precedent, however. The next generation of workers the government hires simply won’t stand for it. They are fundamentally different, wired to be connected 24/7. To them, Facebook is both entertainment and work. It’s a tool, not a time-waster. They’ll use it to connect with friends, and they’ll use it to connect with colleagues. Banning Facebook for these workers will definitely hinder their productivity.

Don’t be surprised to read about the Ontario government reversing this decision sometime in the next two years. I don’t think they’ll have any other choice.

Read: Mashable

8 thoughts on “Why the Facebook ban will be lifted within two years

  1. Dude, I’m with ya on that one. Currently Facebook is banned here at school, because they worry that kids will spend too much time on it. I can understand from an academic point of view why they’d ban sites like that AT SCHOOL, but the Ontario government has gone a bit too far in this case.

    I think it IS a tool, and I think that it’s important that corporations and whatnot start acknowledging that. I mean, I can talk to 17 different people at once on Facebook, while email,phone, etc only enables me to talk to one at time.

  2. Actually, I totally disagree with you. Well, I agree that the banning is stupid. However, I know of *many* government employees (not necessarily where I work, but I know of other friends of ours) who basically spend their day on Facebook.

    I hate to say this, but many people are working at government jobs *because* it is secure, there’s not a lot of challenges, and you can get by with half-assed work without too many people breathing down your neck. I can see why the govt would ban it – the problem is not necessarily in the banning. It’s the fact that there are too many people in govt who *are* totally unproductive. If it wasn’t Facebook, it would be something else.

  3. As much as I adore Facebook, I agree with banning it from workplaces because if you’re on Facebook, it’s highly unlikely that you are doing work. I understand that Facebook can connect you with a collegue, but you can do that by picking up the phone, walking down the hall, or Blackberrying them. One does not need Facebook to do work. I enjoy staying connected all the time, but Facebook *is* a time waster. Maybe it’s because I have no self control, but in order for me to do long stretches of productive work I go to a place where is no wireless or where I have to pay for wireless.

  4. What happened to good old fashion verbal / physical relationships? Picking up the phone to call your friend? We’ve become so engrossed with our "virtual" lives that we have withdrawls when we can’t check our email.

    Our societys dependance on faceless antisocial communication is far more ridiculous than this controversy

  5. I think banning any website is like playing whack-a-mole – another one will just pop up in its place. A few years ago they were banning myspace and friendster. Even before that there were attempts to ban Hotmail.

    As for employees being unproductive, banning access to a website is just lazy management. A good manager should have some idea of what their employees are doing or getting them to be productive. But it’s easier to shut down access to a website and look impressive and pro-active to one’s own bosses than it is to inspire and challenge young staff, or even sanction the slackers.

    Banning one or two websites won’t make anyone more productive (there’s plenty of other timewasting activity available on the internet) and could shut off valuable business and marketing opportunities.

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