Among well-known social media sites, Facebook is the biggest distributor of malware to computers owned by companies with 15 to 1,000 employees, according to Panda Security, which specializes in Web-based computer security products. But in large part this dubious honor merely reflects Facebook's popularity as a tool used by companies for online networking, collaboration, and marketing.
The Panda survey of 315 small and mid-sized companies found 33% have been victimized by malware downloaded to their corporate computer systems via employees using online social networks, and 35% of this group (11.5% of the total) said they incurred a financial loss as a result. Companies aren't unaware of these risks: 64% said they have training programs highlighting social media risks and benefits, and 57% have policies regulating social media use in the workplace.
Separately, a survey of 50 global social network sites by AVG recently found that Facebook had the highest incidence of "status-jacking" -- meaning when someone hacks into a profile to change the content by posting "fake or malicious updates." Out of a total 20,000 compromised pages across various sites, AVG's survey found 11,701 compromised pages on Facebook and 7,163 on YouTube.
Returning to the Panda survey, a lot of this social network activity is actually work-related, as opposed to personal use: 77.5% of the companies surveyed use social networks in various ways, according to Panda, with 50% using them for research, 48% for customer service, 43.5% for marketing, and 35% for sales. In terms of site popularity, the most heavily-used networks are Facebook, used by 69.3% of the companies surveyed; Twitter, used by 44.4%; YouTube, at 33%; and LinkedIn at 22.9%.
Of course there is plenty of non-work-related social media use as well. Previously I've written about a survey by AOL and Salary.com which found 44.7% of workers said surfing the Web was the biggest distraction in their workplace, and a Cisco global survey in which 50% of office workers said they ignored corporate policies which ban social media in the workplace.