Employees Wasting Time with Micro-blogs?
Twitter is popular, and if it is not blocked or forbidden, it can depress workplace productivity. Twitter is a free service that broadcasts text messages (also known as updates or tweets) of up to 140 characters in length. Twitter can be addictive, as readers can enjoy the distraction of reading each little instant message as it comes in.
Twitter supports multiple media for sending and receiving. Users can exchange tweets by way of web pages, electronic mail or mobile (cell) phones (text, IM or SMS).
Responsible use of Twitter can help employees perform their job. For example stock brokers might use Twitter to keep abreast of the latest financial gossip.
But many employers or teachers may have little tolerance for Twitter within their domains. Although employees or students may need access to Internet-connected computers, Twitter can be a nuisance. Administrators therefore might adopt a policy that bans Twitter, and take technical steps to block it. Technical measures might include the deployment of software that blocks certain URLs (such as twitter.com, tweetie.com, facebook.com, myspace.com, which support Twitter or its widgets).
Further, an administrator might use Internet monitoring software to discover which time-wasting sites users are visiting – the latest access points for Twitter and other worthless chat.
An administrator who monitors computer usage is wise to warn users of that fact.
Update: Popular services like Twitter inevitably attract the interest of hackers. Some Twitter users contracted the StalkDaily virus. For some employees there is no reason for them to be on Twitter at work. Security is an additional reason to block the access of these employees to Twitter.
–Ben Wright Mr. Wright teaches data security and e-mail records law at the SANS Institute.