As time goes on, social networking and the online community in general is fast becoming a normal part of business. More and more companies are taking full advantage of online communities and social networks, such as Facebook. Companies recognize that where large communities are – online or offline – is where the potential customers are as well.
The same can be said for offering employees access to Facebook. Interacting with users and customers in the online marketplace is almost a requirement for any business that wants to maintain a competitive advantage. What this means is that many companies are no longer blocking their employees from using Facebook during the workday. For the most part, employees aren’t really abusing the privilege. More and more workers these days are working from remote locations with a workday that is scattered all around the clock. People are combining work lives with personal lives.
At the same time, there is a subsection of employees that do abuse the privilege. This is to be expected, but it isn’t an impossible situation to remedy. In fact, it’s relatively easy if you just use a few creative firewall settings. In the example below, I’m going to show you how a small business utilizing a standard Linksys router can configure the router to block only Facebook games from network traffic. However, using the same principles, you can block Facebook games on your larger corporate network as well.
How To Block Facebook Games
There are multiple approaches you can take to block Facebook games. The first involves blocking specific Facebook applications that come from a specific vendor. This is good because we love Facebook apps – as you can see from Steve’s review of great Facebook photo apps, and Michael and Eric’s review of FB apps that don’t suck. There are a lot of productive apps out there.
So you may just want to block Facebook applications created by one vendor, such as the game maker Zynga for example. You’ll typically find the app creator listed at the bottom of most applications, such as the game Mafia Wars.
In most cases, traffic for these games comes from the domain of that creator. In the case of Zynga, you can easily block all Zynga apps by adding the keyword “Zynga” to the URL block list in your router.
Blocking Facebook Games By Keyword
For a Linksys router, you can find this setting by going to the Access Restrictions tab, and then selecting an Access Policy number that is blank. You can find blank ones by clicking on “Summary“.
Once you’ve selected a blank policy, just add the word “Zynga” (or whatever creator you’re blocking), to the section “Website Blocking by Keyword“. This policy will even block access to the creator website itself.
This won’t enable blocking across the board. You actually have to specifically tell the filter what PCs on the network you want to apply this policy to. You can do that by clicking on “Edit List” in the “Applied PCs” section.
Here, you can detail specific PCs that you want to apply the policy to by Mac Address or IP. In my case, I know the PCs on my small network range from 100 through 107, so I just put that IP address range in the “IP Address Range” section. Obviously, on a larger network you could specify all hundred or thousand PCs that you may have on your entire network. Or, if you want to block just a few PC’s, you can do that too.
Click Save Settings, and then also Save Settings back on the Internet Access Policy page. Now, try to access Zynga.com and see what happens.
Try to access any Zynga game, like Mafia Wars on Facebook, and see what happens.
However, you can still access Facebook and you can still access any other Facebook app. Obviously, not all Facebook apps are games, so some companies may want to still allow access to non-game apps. Blocking Zynga probably will block a majority of the games that are available on Facebook. You could add other Facebook game makers to the block list if you wanted to.
Now, you may actually want to block all Facebook apps completely. That is also possible by using the URL address blocking that routers typically have available as well.
Block Facebook Games By Blocking Facebook Apps
To block all Facebook apps, just go back to the Internet Access Policy page on the router, and in the section “Website Blocking by URL Address“, you can add the base URL for all Facebook apps, which is “apps.facebook.com“.
This will not block all of Facebook, but instead only any pages that use the base URL apps.facebook.com, which all Facebook apps do. Now, you can see below that the app I could access before – The Sims Social – is now blocked by the new rule that I just added.
Whether or not you only want to block games, or if you want to block all Facebook apps, really comes down to the policy of your company or small business. Either way, this technique will provide access for the social networking benefit that Facebook offers to all businesses, while at the same time, blocking the time-wasting and addictive behaviors that Facebook apps tend to lead to.
Did this solution work for you? Do you know of any other creative ways to only block Facebook games or apps on your network? Share your own insights in the comments section below.