Net Effect

Facebook theory of economic development

We could only speculate whether the health reform would have already been passed, had the White House not been spending so much time exploring social networks. They also have a good excuse to do so; it goes by the name of "open government" and "government 2.0" and completely  legitimizes the use of Facebook and Twitter ...

We could only speculate whether the health reform would have already been passed, had the White House not been spending so much time exploring social networks. They also have a good excuse to do so; it goes by the name of "open government" and "government 2.0" and completely  legitimizes the use of Facebook and Twitter at work: it’s all part of their research and outreach, they claim. 

That’s when Obama needs to look at a country he knows all too well: officials in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, decided to take no chances with social networking, especially when it comes to legislature. In order not to be late with passing the draft regional budget for 2010, Surabaya’s municipal administration have blocked employees’ access to leading social networks (including Facebook), blaming them for a decline in civil servants’ performance.

According to The Jakarta Post, "[the decision] followed findings that many government employees did nothing but browse the popular websites during work hours". Indonesian bureacrats are so addicted to Facebook that some contractors are beginning to complain about the slow processing of tender applications.

Social networking in the workplace could be considered harmful only if having government employees "do nothing" constitues a "bad thing". But, at least in some countries, there may also be a silver lining to online distractions: if public servants spend too much time on social networking, they also have less time to botch things up  during their working hours. This  would be good news in countries, where bad governments are responsible for slow economic development and rampant corruption; those are plentiful as we already know. Those professionals who are committed to good work will do it despite the Facebook distraction; the bad apples, however, might get distracted and thus have fewer opportunities for making poor decisions or, worse, cozing up with shady contractors hungry for new tenders…

But even leaving development theories aside, Indonesian authorities are beginning to realize that their ban is not going to be very effective: the Jakarta Post reports that the hardcore Facebook addicts among Surabaya’s bureacrats now access it via their smartphones rather than work PCs.  

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