Thursday, November 17, 2011

Facebook. Look, but don't touch.

Facebook. For some, it's the little black book, calendar, photo album, arcade and mailbox, all rolled up into one crisp pale blue package. The anvil on which many, including myself, forge their social lives.
It is however not without its problems. Between the above, facebook is an effective timesink and can impact productivity in the workplace, ultimately costing companies money. Numerous reports of cyberbullying, facebook stalking and the friend who got 'facebook fired' for posting something libellous understandably put organisations and instituions on edge. The knee jerk reaction is usually to deny access altogether. This hammerblow approach has the desired effect of protecting people from themselves, but can also leave them feeling cut off and frustrated.

Facebook is not an evil of itself by any means. People are social animals, and the Social Network is indeed an intrisic part of every day life for about 800 million people around the world. A friend found his dogs within 6 hours of them going missing, through a chain of events started with a facebook post, so it can certainly be a force for good.

Unrestricted access to facebook is out of the question for many organisations, and no access at all is a blanket solution. Is there a middleground?

I've been working on a project that should offer one.
The result is a solution that allows people to look, but not touch. In short, facebook is available, but without the risk to the individual or organisation. Read-only mode if you like. Combined with Smoothwall's time slots, it offers a powerful and flexible alternative to the hammer approach of blocking it entirely.

Facebook is a technical behemoth. A vast expanse of dynamic content, realtime updates, targetted adverts, likes, shares... the list goes on. It's also tied into an astonishing array of other sites around the web, pulling content from anywhere with a 'like' or 'share' button. Disseminating this giant was a challenge, but definitely worthwhile, and is another step in providing people with the tools to control what enters and leaves their organisations. This time, a scalpel.

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