U.S. military enters the 21st century, allows access to social networking

The Pentagon announced on Friday that military personnel who use its non-classified network will now have access to popular social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, along with services such as YouTube according to a report from Reuters.

The decision came after a seven-month review with senior officials, which concluded that the benefits of social media outweigh the risks typically associated with such sites and will allow the military to better interact with soldiers, many of whom are in their early 20's.

David Wennergren, a deputy assistant secretary of defense said in a statement to Reuters that "The purpose of the policy is to recognize that we need to take advantage of these Internet-based capabilities. These Web 2.0 tools need to be part of what we use."

Social media has become increasingly important as these services captivate a large portion of Internet users' daily activity. For example, Admiral Mike Mullen, who is a top U.S. military officer, has a Twitter feed with over 16,000 followers. And during the crisis in Haiti, U.S. Southern Command offered operational updates using Twitter as well.

Under the new policy, commanders will still need to defend against cyber-attacks and block access to content such as pornography, gambling, and sites that promote "hate-crime related activities". It also allows commanders to temporarily limit soldiers' Internet access if bandwidth is overwhelmed, which is a serious issue for U.S. forces fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, or for those stationed in remote areas.

Wennergren said that commanders also have the authority to limit access to safeguard missions, including prohibiting the use of social media ahead of a major offensive. 

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30 Comments

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"Hey, if we use this term 'Web 2.0', it'll really make us sound like we're into the latest technology..."

Beaux said,
"Hey, if we use this term 'Web 2.0', it'll really make us sound like we're into the latest technology..."
:D

Speaking as someone who works on NIPR every day its a dumb@ss decision. The lag on internet apps (Blackboard, LOGSA, BCKS, etc) is bad enough now - don't even try to do anything requiring serious bandwidth first thing in the morning, just before lunch, or just after lunch. Once you start adding the idiots constantly updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts it will be even harder to get things done.

I have to agree. As much as I would like to check updates on FB while at work when nothing is going on I can see this having an impact on the limited network resources. Due to difference in internet connectivity at different installations some installations will see a larger impact while others might not be so bad. I just hope they give priority to .mil and .gov domains on the bandwidth.

FB on its own isn't going to be as bad as some idiots wanting to play Farmville, CafeWorld etc etc.

Edited by PsyOpWarlord, Mar 1 2010, 8:54am :

I think it is a awful idea, for example, the Pentagon will block the next list of topics :
-demoralized topics :"mom, i want to go home!" (like 90% of the soldier).
-sexuality topics :"i am gay".
-general complain topics :"my captain is a d*ckhead"."this food is gross".
-And another military topics such position, the amount of KIA and MIA and some other sensible information, such torture, sabotage and collateral damage (civilians).

As soon as some moron soldier twitters his unit's position or their classified mission details to his friends, the Pentagon will reverse this decision real quick.

SyntaxError said,
As soon as some moron soldier twitters his unit's position or their classified mission details to his friends, the Pentagon will reverse this decision real quick.
Probably right.

Cool now Al Queda can just look on Twitter and see tweets like this " going to raid (name of town) in Afghanistan tomorrow with 20 of my soldiers. Twitter = Al Quedas new source of intel LOL

Robbers don't even have to stake out houses anymore to rob. Sites like these scan twitter and show maps to people who tweet that they are not at home!

www.pleaserobme.com

jJust sounds like by "allowing" this it'll just make it easier for the Pentagon to data mine their ranks, their families, ect. Becareful what you post and who you friend!

Geez they actually blocked it while deployed overseas ... that sucks ... then again when you think about it basically the same as using facebook while in an office job when supposed to be working.

I think this is great now the US govt can spend billions on ensuring troopers can stay in contact with their friends and families and still not kit them properly. Seriously I think it's a great idea and I agree with Jedimark above the MoD should follow suit and allow non classified info and staff can keep in touch as well, generally a better idea to allow them to communicate I think. But the cynic in me can't help feel that the money shouldn't be just thrown into all of this and ensure all troops have everything they need to protect themselves better.

masterdoran said,
facebook status: in heaven, GAME OVER for me.

I dont know about anybody else, but I find your comment distasteful.

nub said,
I find the fact you found his comment distasteful distasteful.
I find the fact that both of you took time out of your busy lives to reply distasteful. ;)

andrewbares said,
@God: Can I have a second chance, please?

Tasteless comment that makes you come off as a heartless piece of ****....

Tony. said,
Facebook status..

Sgt. Taylor is out killing teh Taliban, lulz..!

ROLF I like that one

I work in a busy ****** HQ and a large majority of uniform and other departments use Twitter and Facebook. I think it's about time they intoduced Facebook bringing it inline with the 21st Century.