After years of different social-networking policies in each branch of the U.S. military, the Department of Defense this week announced that it would allow military personnel to use social-networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube on the government network. However, they must use non-classified computers and their activities cannot "jeopardize operational security" or involve restricted sites that promote gambling or pornography, for instance.
The DoD reportedly made the announcement via Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms as well as on its own Web site.
CNN.com quotes Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III as follows:
This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st Century Internet tools.
The rule also allows unit commanders to limit access as necessary to maintain operation security or address bandwidth issues. Judging from the comments on the CNN piece, response to the measure has been varied so far. One commenter who identified him/herself as a federal employee noted Facebook could not be accessed from computers in that particular agency, which begs the question, "Why should the military get access when other federal employees don't?"
Another, identified as Army Major, said simply:
These social media sites allow service members to stay connected with friends and family back home. They also allow us to get the stories of our good work out that the media often does not report.