COUNCIL employees have spent thousands of working hours on social networking site Facebook.
Sunderland City Council staff have spent 14,465 hours on the popular website since April, which equates to 602 days.
The data, which was requested by the Echo under the Freedom of Information Act, also revealed the most visited sites by council employees.
But it was the authority’s own website which was by far the most visited site, with 81.7million hits in the past year.
Next was search engine Google, with 34.6million hits on its various pages.
Facebook had 17.2million visits, two radio websites had a combined total of 15million, and video sharing site Youtube 1.6million.
Bosses at Sunderland Council defended its workforce’s use of Facebook, and said the radio websites on the list were likely be linked to those made available on gym equipment at the city’s Wellness Centres.
Council deputy leader Harry Trueman said: “The internet is an essential resource for council business and is used by the majority of council employees in the course of their everyday work.
“Social media has and continues to gain increasing importance as a means of communication and engagement between the city council and residents, with more than 2,750 fans on Facebook and 4,778 followers on Twitter.
“And although the main purpose of providing internet access is for council business purposes, appropriate personal use of the internet is permitted, providing this takes place in the employees’ own time.”
He added: “All council employees are required to sign an internet use agreement policy.
“Internet use is monitored, and any inappropriate use that does come to light could result in action being taken against those concerned.”
Last year, a report showed the city was the Facebook capital of the UK – with more people logging on here than anywhere else in the country.
Research found Wearsiders were on average 24 per cent more likely to visit the site than the rest of Britain.
The North East as a whole featured strongly, with Durham coming second and Newcastle 10th.