Clay County Clerk Busts Workers on MySpace Site; Reviews Found Some Were Abusing Internet on Company Time
Apollo, Anne Marie, The Florida Times Union
Byline: ANNE MARIE APOLLO
Two women were asked to resign from their jobs at the Clay County Clerk's office this week and three others were suspended three days, accused of spending too much time chatting it up on the popular social networking site MySpace.
Clay County Clerk James Jett said the use was discovered after supervisors noticed one of the women seemed to struggle to finish work assigned to her. A review of her Internet use showed frequent visits to the Web site on company time, Jett said.
Computer records later yielded several more workers he said "substantially abused" his office's Internet use policy.
"I've held all my employees accountable," Jett said of the crackdown that started Monday. "I expect full day's work for full day's salary."
Checking in online for reasons unrelated to work during the day isn't rare in American offices. A study by research firm Harris Interactive found 69 percent of people surveyed did just that.
But some may be crossing the line.
Past problems with employees using the office's e-mail for unofficial purposes led to previous warnings, Jett said. By using MySpace, which has a chat feature, the workers were able to avoid having their employers monitor their conversations, he added.
The sweep wasn't about content and showed only that workers had been using instant message, not what they were talking about. That, combined with what Jett said were past performance issues, was enough to put their jobs at risk, though.
Clerk's office employees must be able to access the Internet to perform certain aspects of their jobs, Jett said, but his office is now working to block networking sites, including the popular Facebook site and is looking for software that would even more closely restrict access.
"It surprised us, it completely surprised us that we had employees using MySpace," Jett said.
Researchers who consider employees' Internet use likely wouldn't bat an eye.
Wednesday, the Lycos search engine said MySpace topped its list of the 50 most popular search terms for the last week in January, far surpassing nearest contenders "VH1" and "Pamela Anderson."
No matter what they're choosing to look at, studies regularly appear showing that people with access to computers at work frequently put them to personal use.
Last week, Harris Interactive posted results from a survey showing young people like those often seen on personal networking sites are the most frequent offenders.
According to its findings, 77 percent use their office computers for their own purposes and nearly as many are checking for personal e-mail messages. …