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Tweet this but not that; many executives establish stricter social networking policies

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Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow people to communicate more loosely, but many companies are tightening their grip on how employees use these channels at work.

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Thirty-eight percent of chief information officers (CIOs) interviewed have implemented stricter social networking policies -- more than twice the number (17 percent) who say they have relaxed the rules. A larger percentage (23 percent) of technology executives are reining in personal use of social media than are placing limits on social media use for business (15 percent). A previous study found that more than half (55 percent) of companies have social networking policies that ban the use of social networking altogether.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology (IT) professionals on a project and full-time basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees.

CIOs were asked, "As social networking has become more of a business tool, how have you had to re-evaluate your IT policies surrounding its use by employees in your company?" Their responses (multiple responses were permitted):

More strict with respect to personal use -- 23%

More strict with respect to business use -- 15%

More lenient with respect to business use -- 10%

More lenient with respect to personal use -- 7%

No change -- 55%

Don't know/no answer -- 2%

"The challenge for companies is balancing the benefits of social media in the workplace with the risks," said Dave Willmer, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Firms are evaluating how to help employees use social networks to keep pace with developments in their industries, stay connected with business contacts and promote their organizations without sacrificing information security or employee productivity."

Added Willmer, "There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to social networking policies. To be effective, guidelines should include input from stakeholders throughout the organization, including IT, legal, human resources, marketing, public relations and front-line employees."

About the survey

The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 1,400 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. In order for the survey to be statistically representative, the sample was stratified by geographic region, industry and number of employees. The results were then weighted to reflect the proper proportions of the number of employees within each region.

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