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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Preston Doerflinger, director of the agency that oversees the state Cyber Command Security Operations Center, is on it.
Doerflinger is in the process of implementing a policy that blocks employees of his agency, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, from visiting Facebook on their state computers unless they can show their positions have a legitimate need to be allowed access to the site, said John Estus, spokesman for the agency.
Other agency heads will be provided with information about their employees' use of social media sites and can implement their own policies, he said.
“It's somewhat misleading to see how many people are on Facebook because Facebook is where the world lives and breathes today and there are legitimate uses of Facebook in a state employee's job,” Estus said. “They communicate with the public on it. They communicate with the public on Twitter and YouTube. So we don't want to take away our agencies' tools for legitimate purposes.”
“We're not trying to use this tool to be a net nanny for all agencies. We're not trying to tell the teacher on everybody. We're just going to give them the information we gleaned from the system and let them make decisions for each agency.”
Blocking state employees' access to social media sites is not particularly difficult.
The state already blocks employees' access to certain categories of sites, including sites dealing with pornography, gambling, firearms, hate, racism and alcohol, Estus said.
Exemptions are granted when needed. For example, state Lottery Commission employees would have a need to visit gaming sites, he said.
The Security Operations Center does not do things like read people's emails or monitor telephone calls, officials said.
Derby, Turner and Holt were among state lawmakers given tours of the state Cyber Command Security Operations Center earlier this year and all said they came away impressed.
“It's state of the art,” Derby said.