A recent report by Global Secure Systems and Infosecurity Europe UK found that social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo cost businesses as much as 6.5 billion pounds ($12 billion) a year in lost productivity, according to an article in the SiliconRepublic. The\u00a0report \u2013 which surveyed 776 office workers of their social networking habits \u2013 most workers claimed to have spent at least 30 minutes a day on social networks. The SiliconRepublic\u00a0article (a link to the actual report wasn\u2019t available as of yet) had these two interesting tidbits as well: Infosecurity Europe held a meeting of 20 Chief Information Security Officers, who claimed that social networking sites on the top of their to-do lists for security and that the sites alone were eating up between 15 and 20 percent of their companies\u2019 bandwidth. One CISO even reported his company had blocked Facebook for consuming 30 percent of the company\u2019s bandwidth at work.Claire Sellick, Infosecurity Europe\u2019s Event Director, said very bluntly: "It would appear that most CISO and IT Directors loathe social networking sites and if they had their way would ban them completely, but what is also coming across loud and clear is that the HR departments actually welcome the use of these sites - so there is a lot of internal pushing and shoving going on between HR and IT over how best to manage these sites."Here at CIO, we\u2019ve had a pretty healthy debate about the issue of Facebook within the context of the enterprise. It first started when our publisher emeritus, Gary Beach, wrote a column saying he\u2019d shunned Facebook as an application for kids and would invite IT luminaries and\u00a0CIOs to join him on LinkedIn, the social network aimed at professionals. On the other hand, our editor in chief, Abbie Lundberg, has fallen head over heels for Facebook, as evinced by her confessions of a Facebook addict. I argued CIOs should be on Facebook and LinkedIn for both professional and personal reasons, while Senior Editor Tom Wailgum proclaimed he simply didn\u2019t have the time for Facebook altogether. In all those accounts, however, we never directly debated the merits of banning it within corporate walls. I, for one, believe it would be a mistake. I don\u2019t accept the productivity loss\u00a0argument.\u00a0 Every new technology is what an employee makes of it. IM is a perfect example. The employees who chat with their friends all day are inefficient, distracted workers (who, let's face it, won't last at the organization),\u00a0while the employees who chat with their colleagues, business partners, customers and other contacts are probably incredibly productive. The security question is more interesting (and valid). While there are security risks with social networks, I don\u2019t see them as being substantively different than the risks of web-browsing in general (a conclusion I came to after researching a Facebook widget that installed malware on users' computers). So unless you\u2019re willing to ban web access \u2013 and, in doing so, risk losing your best talent to competitors with\u00a0more progressive\u00a0usage policies \u2013 it seems counterintuitive to single out the social networks. It\u2019s the job of corporate IT departments to educate their users on what is and what\u00a0isn\u2019t safe on the web. I see\u00a0no reason that educational process\u00a0can\u2019t be extended to social networks.By banning social networks, companies would,\u00a0in effect, discourage\u00a0employees from making connections with each other, and with customers (the latter, by the way, usually leads to sources of revenue). That, to me, seems risky. But that's only my two cents. We'd love to hear yours, too.