Social Media: The military to go where the Washington Post fears to tread

It is interesting that during all the hoopla surrounding the memo the brass of the Washington post sent to their troops about the use of Twitter and other social media services the US military has a draft memo circulating that would free up US troops use of the medium. While there were rumors a while back that the military was looking to clamp down hard on service people using things like Twitter, blogs, and Facebook it turns out this may not be the case.

In two different posts on Wired: Danger Room blogger Noah Shachtman let’s us in on a new draft memo that had been obtained by Nextgov that outlines a policy meant to clear up previous confusion around overlapping policies for using sites like Twitter. The new policy according to the memo “addresses important changes in the way the Department of Defense communicates and shares information on the Internet,” writes Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn. “This policy recognizes that emerging Internet-based capabilities offer both opportunities and risks that need to be balanced in ways that provide an information advantage for our people and mission partners.

This re-evaluation of policy came from Defense Secretary Robert Gates following the confusion during the summer that saw the Marine Corp totally banning access to social media services while at the same time the Army ordered all US bases to provide access to those same services.

The new policy still has to be okayed by the Pentagon leadership but if it does the new guidelines would allow service members to use the Defense Department’s unclassified networks to visit everything from social networking sites to personal or corporate or subject-specific blogs.

According to the memo, troops can Facebook or YouTube or Flickr all they want — it doesn’t have to be work-related. The servicemembers just can’t claim to be officially representing the military or “have an online presence that could be viewed as representing the Department of Defense (e.g., may not use official title, military rank, military identifiers (i.e., e-mail address), or post imagery with their military uniform).” Of course, the servicememebers would also have to comply with pre-existing regulations “regarding responsible and effective use of Internet-based capabilities,” too.

image: US Army