90% of councils restrict social media, says Socitm

Councils need to embrace social media instead of blocking it, the Society of IT Managers (Socitm) has said.

Councils need to embrace social media instead of blocking it, the Society of IT Managers (Socitm) has said.

Around 90% of councils restrict access in some way, and Socitm is urging IT bosses to encourage their organisations to open up to its opportunities instead of being cautious.

About 67% completely ban the use of networks such as Facebook and Twitter, in contrast to most private sector organisations which do not block access.

Many of those which do allow use of social media only do so during lunch breaks, suggesting they see the tools as purely social with no business benefit.

Council bosses' concerns centre around security, with fears of viruses and malware raised. Bosses also expect staff to waste time on the sites, as well as compromising data.

Socitm says that staff will simply use their own devices to access these sites if they cannot do so at work. The organisation says the risks and disadvantages need to be managed, not ignored.

It also points out that social media might be able to help address looming budget cuts by providing a cheap way to talk to citizens and provide services. Social media can also give employers new ways of empowering and supporting employers.

Chris Head, who wrote Socitm's report on the issue, said, "Use of social media has exploded, appearing on the radar of ICT managers, but mostly for the wrong reasons. The term 'social' implies 'not related to work', but this is a fallacy. 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."

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