Story on Vatican and access to Facebook provokes debate

We hit a nerve yesterday with our story on how the Vatican has set up a firewall to stop employees from accessing social-networking sites like Facebook while at work. We posted it on our own Facebook page (naturally!) and got reader comments ranging from the Vatican is just like any company that has a right to secure its computer network to the fact that some people have legitimate reasons to go on Facebook during work hours.

Vatican employees interviewed for our article maintained that Facebook has become an important news source for many and that problems last winter with a Holocaust-denying bishop could have been avoided with better access to information. But Vatican officials said that the policy was, in the words of one, “a fairly normal and prudential measure.”

What do you think? Is social networking a modern-day equivalent of having a telephone on your desk that too can be abused, or are such policies a valid way to block access to inappropriate material? Share your thoughts below.

4 Responses

  1. Someone should investigate Facebook’s refusal to allow clergy and religious to use their titles on Facebook. Some seem to get away with it for a while, but then “Father” or “Sister” is removed with a message saying titles are not allowed. How does the Vatican get away with it?

  2. Regrettably, this is not specific to the Vatican but rather a prevalent attitude at many corporate organizations. The concern, commonly held by HR and IT professionals, is that Facebook and other social media platforms distract the workforce from their primary job-related responsibilities and are a source of malware. There is also the fear of disseminating confidential information through these media. The consequences are very restrictive policies and the IT department “locking down” access to these websites from within the corporate firewall. In the case of the Vatican, I don’t see this as coming from the heirarchy since I suspect that most bishops and cardinals are knowledgeable about these matters.

  3. Clearly every organization has the right to limit the use of its IT infrastructure to work-related activities. Would CNS okay the use of its IT infrastructure for non-work-related activities if that meant a negative impact on the purpose of CNS? Since it is difficult to determine the scope of such a “negative impact” most organizations do limit such usage while at work. Not all, but it is a widely adopted IT strategy. There are limits to both the IT infrastructure and the time that an employee has to get work done while in the office.

    And just remember what John XXIII answered when asked how many people worked at the Vatican: “about half”!!

    Nuff said!

  4. I wonder if there is an exception for B16′s own facebook fan page. He certainly has more fans than I do…

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