London: Civil servants in Britain have been told to use social networking website Facebook at work to find out what the public is thinking.
Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service, has written to departmental chiefs ordering them to make sure staff interact with the public on social networking websites, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
But officials say the move will simply encourage civil servants to spend time idly, contacting their friends on Facebook.
The plan could also bring about a computer security risk, officials feel. The departments have time till September to adjust their computer security to allow access to Facebook.
The civil service head feels social networking will help the government interact with voters. He wants more information to be put out via the internet.
Officials working on projects that feature public consultations would also be allowed to use Twitter. One senior official termed the idea as "totally mad".
"It's a licence for civil servants to mess about all day on Facebook. If everyone does personal Facebooking for just 10 minutes a day, that will cost taxpayers millions of pounds a year in lost man hours," the official said.