Staff in the Department of Work and Pensions have logged onto Facebook and Twitter more than 120,000,000 millin times in the last year, a Freedom of Information request has revealed. 

The FOI request was used to receive information on the top 10 website visited by staff at the department.

The Mirror report: 

Civil servants waging the Government’s war on “skivers” are spending thousands of hours in the office looking at shopping, social networking and sport websites. Figures reveal officials at the Department of Work and Pensions are logging on to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Sky Sports MILLIONS of times a year. Google is the most popular website with 690,448,667 views.

You can read the full story here. 

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.


  1. Poor analysis by The dialy mail, with ignorant spin on ambiguous nombers and you’ve relayed it rather than give it perspective.

    What’s the number as a proportion of (1) the number of staff (2) the number of working days across which the data was collected. They gives a more meaningful perspective to this abract number i.e. on average a DWP employee logs into facebook (number with perspective) per working day. They maybe logging into facebook in their lunch-hour, tea break – effectively keeping them onsite to be productive soon afterwards. These people maybe be banking online – stopping time consuming trips to the bank releasing time for them to be productive. I’d like to see some deeper analysis of the numbers that provide a good interpretive context. Even if you dont have the FOI data itself to do the anaylsis you should be thinking about what it doesn’t say rather than relaying a Daily Mail story with their Spin. Come on Matt, practice some real investigative journalism !

  2. I completely agree with you. The figures don’t actually represent anything at all. They fail to provide any context, or background. Unfortunately this is all too common with FOIs used in the media, it’s easy to obtain the figures but providing any detailed context often takes away the sting of the story. As the spokesperson says in the story: “Staff are permitted to use the internet in their own time, including lunchtimes.”

    The FOI stories I post on here are being done as examples of how the media use the act, but it may be that I should try and offer some analysis of the FOI stories as well. I will consider it (and try to if I have time).

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