Last week, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Harrisburg, Penn. tried an experiment. For a full week, the campus blacked out social networking site use for students, faculty and staff. ABC News reported:
Reactions on campus have been mixed. Some students have embraced the moratorium and have really cut themselves off from social networking while for others the separation from these sites has incensed them to near riotous revolt. Most have found ways around the block. Students access Facebook on smartphones or walk a few blocks to a local hotel to gain access there.
The University’s president plans to get feedback regarding the blackout, but during a webinar, the folks at Perimeter E-Security speculated that one thing to come from the experiment is the lesson that everyone has a different idea of what social networking is and, hence, each person will use it differently.
And that, the webinar stressed, is an important factor to remember when developing a corporate social networking security policy.
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As was stated, the way an enterprise tries to protect a network or dictate social networking use may not fit with the way all employees are actually using it. For example, company policy may restrict messaging on Facebook and Twitter, but what about the person who likes to upload photos to Flickr on the company network or who only uses LinkedIn (or Facebook) for business networking?
I can see how the Harrisburg University experiment would be a good exercise for individuals to understand just how they use social networking. After all, the more the IT security office knows about the way the network is used, the better they can develop policies and tools to protect it.