Facebook Underground: Young Professionals Adjust to Social-Media Lockdown

The New York Observer ‘s Leon Neyfakh reports on the almost unstoppable desire of New York’s young white-collar workforce to enjoy their machine-mediated social lives, even on work time and despite the rise of Web-blocking technology. One set of bank staffers, he writes, found themselves blocked and immediately wrote some code to get over the barricades: 

“We ran it on our computers, it saved some files in the right places and then changed our Internet configuration so that it circumvented the security,” said one of the analysts who benefited from the heroic hack. Ever since, he has been happily chatting and sending emails to friends using a hard-to-read, black-and-green Gmail scheme called “Matrix,” which makes it so that supervisors walking by his desk think he’s running some highly technical DOS-based financial model.

At one news organization, though, the time-limited Web-access software did the reprogramming of its users:

Though the timer system seemed to give Alexander more freedom to surf than his friends who worked at banks and law firms, it served as a very effective deterrent. “The quota system shames you into feeling like this is a waste of time,” he said. “It’s almost like when a parent says, ‘Well, go ahead, I’m not going to stop you from staying out late and not doing your homework—see what happens.’ It’s like Foucault! Knowing that someone is out there judging you causes you to police yourself.”