Socitm: Ninety percent of councils restrict social media

Ninety percent of councils still restrict access to social media, according to Socitm, which urged IT managers to embrace the technology instead of blocking it.

The public sector IT managers’ organisation found 67 percent of councils have a total ban on the use of social media, enforced through policy or by a software block, while others limit the use to lunchtimes or out of office hours. This implied that the social media tools were viewed as having little business benefit, Socitm said.

Security was cited as the main reason why IT managers restricted access to social media, with 64 percent of respondents blaming the possible exposure to viruses and other malware.

Time wastingclosely followed as a reason for restricting access, with 63 percent of respondents citing it. Other concerns included the risk of a system or data compromise, damage to reputation and increased demand on limited bandwidth.

It is impossible to stop people using social media, the report concluded, adding that that they would simply access it through their own devices such as smart phones. Meanwhile, IT managers could manage the security risks of social media by incorporating the tools into their IT strategy.

Social media is also an economical way for public sector organisations to deliver services, communicate with staff and engage with the community, Socitm said.

Christopher Head, co-author of the report, said: “CIOs and heads of ICT need to take the lead and educate colleagues on the organisation’s management team about the benefits of social media, as well as finding ways to accommodate them appropriately and safely through the corporate infrastructure.”

Socitm’s report is supported by Gartner’s research released at the end of last year, which predicted that by 2012, social networking site Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and that businesses should take advantage of Facebook for business-to-consumer strategies.

Gartner also predicted that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide, rendering futile IT managers' attempts to block access to social media tools on PCs at work.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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