A Department of Defense memo from Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynne outlines the Pentagon’s new policies on the use of social networking services like Facebook and Twitter. To my surprise, it basically boils down to a total embrace of social networking, with just enough restrictions so we don’t see tweets like “Headed to Kabul for surprise attack on taliban–don’t tell @insurgency LOL.”
Prior to this change, DoD policy was largely left up to individual commanders, and was mostly banned, especially blogs written by active military personnel. In contrast, while this new memo makes a strong division between official and personal use, it doesn’t discourage either, instead praising the capabilities of social networking for education and publicity. Official blogs, Twitters, Facebook pages or what have you will come with certain requirements, including links to official websites, images of the military seal, and language cleared by a higher-up.
But personal use merely requires the use of “sound” security measures already in place as well as a clear indication that the person in question does not speak for the military as a whole. The memo offers as an example this clarification: “This statement is my own and does not constitute an endorsement by or opinion of the Department of Defense,” which is a little problematic for Twitter since it alone takes up 106 characters, but we get the idea.
Good news for military personnel who want to waste time at work in the same way as the rest of us, right?