Last month Orange Rag editor Charles Christian rather pointlessly put some time in, cranking up his profile to 90% on the LinkedIn social networking site. This month he's been playing with Facebook – and what a difference…

“Comparing the two, LinkedIn has the feel of being a Web 2.0 presence that has been designed by accountants or members of a golf club – you know, worthy but dull – whereas Facebook looks a social networking site that has been designed by people who like to network – and party. On the technology front, when the two are compared, LinkedIn is, frankly, lame whereas Facebook has all the bells and whistles anyone could possibly want. And having free downloads so you can also keep in touch with Facebook developments on an iPhone (or iPod Touch) or Blackberry really is a killer. When Crackberry meets Crackbook – see second part of this story.

“It's also interesting to see that while there is an element of overlap between my LinkedIn and Facebook contacts, there is also an element of self-selection, with the more straight-laced, we take ourselves very seriously brigade on LinkedIn and the people you'd happily spend an evening drinking in a wine bar with on Facebook. (I know, I've just single-handedly alienated half the people I know – but, hey, it is Friday.)

“That said, I think a lot of businesses are missing a trick here as Facebook is far more pervasive – its even taking off in the US now and starting to challenge MySpace. Its 'find a friend' networking database is spectacularly good. And its access controls mean it is possible to control what parts of your profile different groups of people see. In otherwords you can create Chinese walls between your private life and the stuff you would not mind your employers, clients or parents seeing.

“The groups facility also has a lot of potential for creating company or product related sections. Perhaps instead of building yet more integration between Interaction and LinkedIn, CRM software developers should be focusing on the likes of Facebook instead. But there again, a lot of software companies are also run by accountants and golf club members.”

• You can find Charles Christian on Facebook via his charles@legaltechnology.com address. Next month he'll be playing with Twitter in the hope he can find a serious use for it. And now for a warning about the dark side of Facebook from Mace & Jones…

Law firm urges employers to get tough, as worker sacked for Facebook misuse
Recession battered employers are being urged to crack down on the devastating impact to staff productivity of internet misuse at work. Law firm Mace & Jones made its remarks after teenage office worker Kimberley Swann was sacked last week from her job as an office administrator in Essex after branding it “boring” on Facebook.

Mace & Jones employment law partner Mark Hatfield said the case came as “no surprise” and advised that many employers are taking  a firm line on the internet considering it a “silent time killer” of epidemic proportions. “Employers are not prepared to tolerate misuse of the internet generally but especially in the current climate,” said employment law partner Mark Hatfield. “With businesses struggling and redundancies rife every job and every hour counts. Staff who idle away on the internet are wasting  valuable time which should be being deployed to maintain company efficiency and productivity. To enforce proper IT use, it is critical staff are told exactly what the company internet policy is so no-one is in any doubt about its importance and what the punishments are”.

Mr Hatfield said the problem is not isolated to junior staff and reported he has advised one firm on disciplining a senior member of staff who was misusing the internet by playing online computer games. “Staff can be allowed time during breaks to surf the net and send emails to friends,” he said. “But employers need to ensure staff members are not sharing sensitive or embarrassing company information, as happened with the case in Essex on the internet.  It is worth noting, for example, that Facebook has privacy settings which people should be made aware of. But Facebook seems  especially damaging  to productivity because it encourages people, who work together or nearby, to start communicating with each other instead of getting on with the job.”

Orange Rag comment… Many major employers have already taken a tough line on internet abuse including Lloyds TSB, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse which have all banned Facebook. Cynics would say they might have made better use of their time monitoring the business rather than social activities of their bankers. True there is the time wasting factor – but exactly the same arguments
have been made in the past about email, web surfing and blogging. And,
for those with longer memories, the telephone and the long liquid lunch hour.