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You are here: Home / Mobile Industry News / DoD Eyes Military Social Networking
DoD Reviewing Military's Use of Social-Networking Sites
DoD Reviewing Military's Use of Social-Networking Sites
By Patricia Resende / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
The U.S. Department of Defense is studying the threats and benefits of soldiers and government officials using social-network Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace and mini-blogging sites such as Twitter. The DoD said it is working on a policy for the sites.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III set a memo to all branch secretaries directing the DoD's CIO to present the secretary of defense with an analysis no later than Aug. 31. Policies for the Web sites must be completed no later than Sept. 30.

"These tools are proving valuable in such areas as recruitment, public affairs, and quality of life for our military personnel as well as sharing information with allies, coalition partners, and military families," Lynn wrote. "However, as with any Internet-based capabilities, there are implementation challenges and operational risks that must be understood and mitigated."

A Uniform Policy

Currently, commanders in all branches of the military are responsible for deciding whether soldiers can access and post information to the Web sites, according to Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh, a DoD spokesperson.

"Commanders at all levels can make restrictions based on their concern of bandwidth and security," Butterbaugh said. "The effort is now to pull together all the issues, and it is clearly something that is valuable to communications with family -- but risks come with it, too, such as security and hacking."

While individual commanders have the discretion to block or allow the use of such sites in any particular situation, the U.S. Marine Corps has banned Marines from using government computers to access such Web sites.

Butterbaugh wouldn't say whether a uniform policy would trump the decision by the USMC, but he did say a uniform policy could include training in the use of such Web sites.

"I don't know what the specifics will say," he said. "There are different possibilities."

Usage High

If the uniform policy is to ban the military from using such sites, hundreds if not thousands of military personnel will be negatively affected, from top-ranking officers such as Ray Odierno, commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, to soldiers in the field who use the sites to communicate.

John Wilkinson, a former Marine who uses Facebook to keep in touch with soldiers serving in Afghanistan, said Facebook is a useful tool.

"If we would have had {Facebook and MySpace}, it would have been a lot easier to keep in touch with friends and family," Wilkinson said. "I do understand that there are limits to what can be said, but I think we are all smarter than that."

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