Social Media Innovation by Prof. Johnson


Is Facebook a viable publishing platform?

Facebook IconVadim Lavrusik posts at on “Facebook’s Growing Role in Social Journalism.”

A Facebook-only news organization? It was only a matter of time. The Rockville Central, a community news site in the Washington, D.C., area, will move all its operations and news coverage to its Facebook Page starting on March 1. This risky move by the site’s editor, Cindy Cotte Griffiths, highlights Facebook’s growing role as a platform for journalists to use for social storytelling and reporting. When it comes to journalists using social media, Twitter has been the go-to platform for real-time reporting and reaching out to sources, largely because it’s a public platform and most of its content is accessible. But with Facebook continuing to scale and in some ways become more public, it offers journalists an arsenal of content types beyond 140 characters and an alternative destination to connect with new sources of information.

Lavrusik points out a potential disadvantage:

Whether it’s through a Facebook Application — built to be a destination for news and discussion — or a Facebook Page that users can subscribe to and receive posts in their News Feed, news organizations are experimenting with building Facebook-only news portals to take advantage of the social distribution on the platform and an existing audience. The Rockville Central is taking its community news site to Facebook and will focus on curation and civic engagement, instead of duplicating content others have produced. Of course, the big disadvantage is it can’t host its own ads, which isn’t the site’s goals. A larger news organization,, which is dependent on ad revenue, has built a Facebook News Application called “Your Boston” using NewsCloud’s Open Source application platform.

(Click through for a screen shot of the two sites).

What do you think, is it viable to launch a Facebook-only news portal? What are some major advantages and disadvantages? If you were going to create an online news organization, what would it look like?

Task 8 Completion Criteria (10 points)

Post a comment below with a link to your well-reasoned post on this discussion topic.

Workplace Bans of “The Facebook”

In Sept. 2007, Jaikumar Vijayan wrote for Computerworld, Don’t Ban Facebook at Work, Researchers Advise:

While it’s unacceptable for employees to spend hours at work on such sites, it is OK and even beneficial to trust them to spend a few minutes using the sites, the TUC said. “It’s unreasonable for employers to try to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can’t get their heads around the technology,” Barber said.

Much of the “hysteria” is the result of misplaced or uninformed concerns about the negative consequences of social networking sites at work, he said. “The issue that seems to be worrying employees is cyberslacking. But we don’t see this as a particularly new phenomenon.”

Employers in the past have shown a certain willingness to allow their employees to use the Web in their downtime, and there is no reason to change that attitude, he said. “They seem to be overreacting to this Facebook issue just because it’s such a hyped story.”

Nonetheless, in October, 2009, Wired reported that “54 Percent of Companies Ban Facebook, Twitter at Work

According to a study commissioned by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing company, 54 percent of U.S. companies say they’ve banned workers from using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, while on the job. The study, released today, also found that 19 percent of companies allow social networking use only for business purposes, while 16 percent allow limited personal use.

Only 10 percent of the 1,400 CIOs interviewed said that their companies allow employees full access to social networks during work hours.

“Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. “For some professions, however, these sites can be leveraged as effective business tools, which may be why about one in five companies allows their use for work-related purposes.”

And, perhaps most surprising is Austin Carr’s report from early 2011 that “Facebook Still Banned at Goldman Sachs, $450 Million Investment Be Damned.”

This wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise–other big finance firms such as Morgan Stanley block social networking sites too–except for the fact that Goldman Sachs just invested $450 million in Facebook, a service its 35,400 employees are discouraged from using. Could that soon change?

Multiple requests to Goldman Sachs for comment were not returned, but according to one source at the company, Facebook is still banned, despite the huge injection of capital. When accessing, employees are initially denied access, and receive a message which explains that Facebook is prohibited by firm policy, and that any access to the site will be logged and audited. By entering the site, employees acknowledge that they understand the firm’s policy–that the site can be accessed for “legitimate business” only.

Task 4: Blog post

For this week’s discussion question, answer:

Do you agree or disagree that “Facebook should be banned in the workplace”? Would you work for a company that banned the use of Facebook?

Completion Criteria (10 points)

Post a comment below with a link to your well-reasoned post detailing your thoughts on this discussion topic.