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.
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:
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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