Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

The Oklahoman thinks lazy state employees are spending too much time on Facebook…

computer-nerd

In Sunday’s Oklahoman, the state’s most trusted newspaper published a sloppy and misinformed expose about how much time state employees spend surfing the internet while at work. The semi-promotional article seemed more like an advertorial paid for by a small government conservative group than an objective and informed news piece written by a respected news organization. Basically, it was typical Oklahoman filler.

From NewsOK.com:

State employees really, really like Facebook.

They like Twitter and YouTube, too.

We know because little brother is watching.

Oklahoma’s Cyber Command Security Operations Center’s main job is to protect the state’s computer system from cyber attacks, but security personnel track website visits by employees on the state computer network, as well.

Real quick, can someone inform The Oklahoman that almost every large employer tracks employee web traffic? It’s not a new technology or anything.

Anyway, I already get where this is going. State employees spend too much time on the internet, are generally lazy, waste taxpayers dollars, blah blah blah. That would be news if was just limited to state workers. At last check, employees at every company spend too many unproductive hours on the internet. Hell, you’re probably reading this at work right now instead of answering emails or updating spreadsheets. I guess that’s okay if you work in the private sector.

So, which websites are these lazy state employees visiting? I’m sure it mirrors the Alexa top 10. Google, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc:

Because they do this, they are able to report that computers on the state network made 2,008,092 page visits to Facebook from July through September this year.

Holy crap, I guess that’s a lot because it’s in the newspaper! Anything else?

Facebook’s numbers are inflated, somewhat, because its widgets are embedded on many other websites, so it gets page view counts when people visit those other sites, as well, security officials said.

Still, the number of recorded Facebook page views is nearly double the 1,074,684 page views made to its closest competitor, Google.

Twitter and YouTube finished fifth and eighth on the top 10 list of most visited sites, with 272,661 and 225,228 page views, respectively.

Inflated somewhat? Are you kidding me? Virtually every website in the world (this one included) has those silly Facebook widgets on them. Reporting those things as page views for Facebook is more misleading than a “Next Week on Survivor” montage. Also, state agencies like DHS block Facebook, so how do we know how many Facebook page views are really taking place?

To make things worse, the article doesn’t define, frame or put page views into any sort of perspective. I know that 2-million sounds like a large number, but in the world of the web it’s really not that significant. They add up like crazy.  It would be like someone making a fuss over two-million snowflakes. Wait, the Oklahoma media loves to over hype snow. Bad example.

To further show that the Oklahoma has no clue what they’re talking about, check out this graphic of the 10 most visited sites. I think they have already removed it from NewsOK.com:

news ok chart

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t go to adtrack.pubomatic.com when they wake up each morning.

Seriously, that graphic just further invalidates the article. Either state employees have awful taste in websites or those numbers are skewed and misleading. Google has about a 66% market share for search engine traffic, but we’re supposed to believe that it’s equal to Bing? Also, there’s no way NBCnews.com gets more page views than YouTube, Yahoo or CNN, unless the reporting is jacked up like the Facebook page view stats.

Of course, NewsOK.com had to include a humble brag:

In the interest of full disclosure, NewsOK, a website corporately tied to The Oklahoman, came in ninth on the top 10 list, with 218,775 page visits by state employees, the largest number of page views to any state news organization.

In the interest of full disclosure, I bet the whole reason this article was published was to give NewsOK.com an excuse to brag about their web traffic. And by the way, each one of those NewsOK.com visits counted as a page view for Facebook.

With state employees abusing their Internet Explorer browsers so regularly, obviously the Oklahoman turned to HR, business and technology professionals for insight into the problem:

The obsession some state employees have with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has some state lawmakers concerned.

“It’s astronomical,” state Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, said of the more than 2 million Facebook page views by state employees over a three-month time. “It’s just a lot of wasted time and energy and money … State employees on Facebook on company time is never a good thing.”

Derby clarified that in today’s world, where millions of people communicate through social media, it is sometimes appropriate for people like lawmakers and some members of the governor’s staff to communicate with constituents through social media, but noted the number of page views would indicate abuse.

State Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, and state Sen. David Holt, R-Bethany, voiced similar concerns.

“It’s not necessarily shocking, but it’s certainly significant,” Holt said.

Turner noted some of the Facebook visits likely are fairly innocuous, like visiting a Facebook page on an employee’s lunch hour, but said, “two million hits is probably 1.5 million too many.”

“It really needs to be addressed by policy,” he said.

Yep, they turned to clueless Republican Oklahoma legislators who don’t know a bounce rate from unique visit to address the situation. Maybe they should do this for every article. Instead of turning to experts in a particular field or subject, they just ask a legislator instead. For example, if there’s a flu outbreak, don’t talk to a doctor or scientist. Just give Representative David Holt a call. If he’s not busy wasting his time on Twitter, maybe he’ll reply.

Anyway, I should probably tie this up before your boss walks into your office and asks what you’re doing. Here are some final thoughts:

1. The article doesn’t mention anything about the time people waste using smart phones. In the whole scheme of things, what’s the difference between liking a Facebook status on an iPhone or state-owned computer.

2. I’m not trying to defend those lazy state employees who do probably waste too much time on the internet. I’m just pointing out that it’s a problem in both the private and public sector, and that NewsOK.com seems to be unfairly targeting state employees.

3. Thanks again for reading this stuff while at work. It keep us in business.

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Comments

  1. “Hell, you’re probably reading this at work right now instead of answering emails or updating spreadsheet”

    Yep! Forget FB, TLO is my break from work.

  2. A major point that seems to be going over your head.
    People wasting their time surfing the internet in the private sector are wasting their employers money… Government workers surfing the internet are wasting OUR money…

    • You wasting other peoples money = okay (assuming you’re gainfully employed and at work while you’re reading this blog and typing your comment)

      State employees wasting your money = not okay (again, assuming they’re on the clock when they visit Facebook and not using it for work purposes)

      Duly noted.

      Also, just so you know, not all state employees are paid by your tax dollars. So not all of these visits occurred on your dime.

    • So you don’t spend any money in the private sector on goods and services? So all those lazy asses in the private sector aren’t a drain on resources? I’ve worked in both private and public. The same lazy asses populate both arenas. Hey, how about the Governor yesterday saying agencies won’t see any new moneynext year? Let’s see, income tax cut, check. Agency director pay raises, check. Screw state employees and agencies, check. So friggin’ what if someone gets on the interwebs? They still have a job to do and will get reprimanded if it’s not done. What do they get in return? Persecution by underinformed partisans.

  3. Patrick, great commentary! You thought of a whole bunch of fallacies in the article, and of a sinister motivation behind it.

    I have one more thought. The stupid article made the implicit assumption that all those Facebook visits are being made on Government time.

    I use a computer at work constantly, mostly on special software that pertains to my work. Most of my internet use occurs during my meal breaks at my desk, when I’m off the clock. If they measured my internet activity based only on the sites that I visit, I would be labeled as totally worthless.

    I have no idea who actually trusts “Oklahoma’s Most Trusted Newspaper.”

    • About 1.7mil of those Facebook view can be attributed to Newsok, msn, NBC news, huff post, and YouTube as they all have facebook widgets on every page. Plus does that not include all the YouTube videos imbedded on all those sites? I am thinking those numbers are too low!

  4. I’d be more concerned with the employees that waste time smoking and hanging out near the coffee shop in the building. I used to work in the ODOT building and saw the same people playing chess and smoking all the time. Besides, who doesn’t check their Facebook on their phone?

  5. I read that story and thought it was a little iffy, but didn’t give it much more thought, because well, I had to update my status or something. Might have even had work to do. Good job pointing out how deceptive that was. Pretty sad.

  6. I am a state employee working for an agency in the criminal justice arena. We use the heck out of Facebook and other social networking sites while on state time on state computers. In fact, we spend hours a day on these sites. But none is updating our personal status. We do it because it’s a gold mine of investigative info. Because criminals are stupid and post info about their criminal practices on Facebook. Really, social networking has been a boon for investigation practices. I’m actually surprised the Facebook numbers were that low. My agency alone has to have been a huge part of that number. And there are dozens of agencies that do the same, for legitimate purposes. And, when we hire new employees, we research them on social media. You learn a lot about prospective employees from their social media.

  7. I can’t believe I’m typing this, BUT, I think Mark W. Mumma’s input on this topic would be both informed and appreciated. This is probably the first such topic that I can remember where that this is the case other than the Platt College Culinary Institute Alumni blogpost.

    Can somoeone page him and ask him to take a break from making the “Don’t Tread On Me” Christmas flags? Is there a “Don’t Tread On Me”-like bat signal we can shine on Devon Tower?

  8. I use social media A LOT for legitimate, business-related reasons, as well as many of the other sites listed. This article is misleading in a million ways. The raw count does not distinguish work-related hits from those that are not. Poopy “journalism”.

  9. Huh, I’ve been at a few state agencies, and I’ve never been able to use facebook. Every division I’ve worked for uses “Websense,” and blocks all social media sites. It also blocks games, streaming media, and just about 80% of the internet in general.

  10. In my prior career working for a privately owned company we were warned that our web usage was being tracked, and still a co-worker was caught spending almost an entire day shopping for wallpaper. Surprisingly she got laid off…and went to work for a large Federal government agency.

  11. As a state employee, I can say that the sites like Facebook are blocked in my agency. These numbers are very misleading.

  12. What else are teachers like me supposed to do on our planning period when we’re ahead of the game after spending our own money to get there?

    But I’m not bitter.

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