Everyone knows that social networking in the office is a series of gray areas wrapped around uncertainty. It’s good, it’s bad – depending on who you talk to. It’s definitely something that businesses have to think about, e

ven though many of them have no official policies in place.

Facebook accounts for 6.8 percent of business traffic, according to figures by managed security company Network Box, which analyzed 13 billion URLs visited by businesses in Q1 2010. Ten percent of business broadband is spent on YouTube videos, and 4.5 percent of business bandwidth is used by Facebook.

The use of both of these, unsurprisingly, is up: Facebook use at work is up one percent over the last quarter of 2009; YouTube watching, 2 percent.

Of course, outside of potential productivity loss, the main concern with the use of social media in the worlplace is the security risk involved. People still don’t seem to get that malware lurks in Facebook apps. For forty-three percent of IT managers, this is the biggest concern.

"The figures show that IT managers are right to be concerned about the amount of social network use at work,” said Simon Heron, internet security analyst for Network Box.

“There are two real concerns here: firstly that employees will be downloading applications from social networks and putting security at risk; and secondly the amount of corporate bandwidth that appears to be being used for non-corporate activity,"

According to Nielsen, 47 percent of Americans visit Facebook daily, which is nearly as many who watch TV daily (55 percent).

By Mark Alvarez