civil servants love Facebook

It seems you can’t move without falling over media love-ins about Facebook recently. Both user numbers and column inches (what’s the online equivalent – page impressions?) have grown exponentially in very short period of time.

I personally wasn’t too taken with Facebook to begin with, I’m not alone. I joined out of curiosity as when they opened up registration to non-students. But it seems that I am a bit too old to appreciate it – nobody I went to college with is on there. It was a bit of a disappointment for me and I am sure that my (considerably) younger sister in law was only feeling sorry for me when she invited me to be her ‘friend’ after my discovery.

But recently things have gone a little bonkers. You don’t have to have too many friends for a lot of activity to occur around your profile and the level of updates appearing on my page is almost too much to take in. My (other) sister in law and brother in law seem to pretty much organise their social lives via Facebook – all their friends are on there and parties, holidays etc get planned within their circle of friends.

But its quite exciting to see things happening and its more than simply a way of staying in touch. I’m not quite sure exactly what it is yet but I’m interested enough to want to continue to play around with it and see how it all pans out.

One thing that was pointed out to me is the amazing growth in the number of civil servants in the UK civil service group (you have to have a .gov.uk email address to join). Just two months ago the group was 800 strong. As I write this, the number stands at 13,022. That number is up by 200 since lunchtime today.

So what are the group members talking about? Not a lot yet apart from identifying which part of the public service they come from – they’re beginning conversations about what its like to work in their bit and asking about others experiences. Its early days but the potential is huge.

Apparently almost half the BBC’s staff are members of their group, imagine if half of all civil servants were on Facebook! The main barrier to that is that most (if not all) government firewalls block access to the site, guess there must be security implications for the GSI that need resolving.

As the numbers continue to rise, people across government are watching with interest, wondering what implications this might all have and what opportunities this presents for communicating with switched on and connected civil servants.

Interesting times indeed.

Update: three more have joined in the last fifteen minutes – its after midnight for goodness sake!

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  1. hi Jeremy, I have picked up the buzz as well from colleagues and wider. It is real, not just via the sunday times!

    like you I’m wary but that’s because I don’t have an interest in organising socially that way. I have tried it and it’s not how i’d do it, I don’t want to detail or type up my life and interests that way, feels weird and a bit ‘been there’.

    However I like the idea of any network which local government workers can use to link up. For a long time I was working pretty much on my own and this is true of lots of other workers I’ve met. The government setup networks generally don’t work IME and it’s interesting to see Boards like Public Sector Forums being where people turn for answers – I wouldn’t see Facebook usurping that role quite yet.

    cheers, Paul

    p.s. I’ve a comment lurking in ‘About me’ ;]

  2. Can’t argue with the numbers though – now up to 13,349 – be interesting to see if any special interest or local geographic groups sprout up inside the civil service network.

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