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Eye Opener: Military Clamping Down on Facebook

By Ed O'Keefe

U.S. troops face at least a temporary ban on social media sites until the Pentagon sorts out how to allow access to them.

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! The military is clamping down on the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites -- at least for now.

Reuters: "The Pentagon has ordered a review of its use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, citing concerns that security could be compromised, officials said on Tuesday. Many branches of the military use the popular, public-access sites in an effort to connect with young people, as well as to counter the propaganda of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Military Times: The Marines have banned the use of social media on official computers. New guidelines call the sites "'a proven haven for malicious actors and content,' and officially prohibits Marines from accessing them from work computers unless a waiver is granted." (The service’s official Twitter site, for example, now has nearly 2,000 followers, and its official Facebook page has more than 75,000 fans.)

Stars and Stripes reports however that "Earlier this year, Army officials ordered network managers at 81 U.S. locations to unblock Web sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter as part of an effort to standardize access to the popular social networking tools. Last month, the staff of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen unveiled his new Facebook page, and he told reporters that Pentagon leaders should know and understand more about popular Internet sites their subordinates are using."

All of this reporting suggests the military will eventually release guidelines on how to use the sites on government computers, while not banning their use on personal computers. The key is how quickly the guidelines are formed and how they address potential computer security concerns. Stay tuned.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | August 5, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Network security, like physical security, is too often used as an excuse for clamping controls on government workers. We can lock everyone inside the fence, prohibit them from interacting with each other or the public, and that guarantees no one will hurt or be hurt. Of course, it also isolates our government from the public...but there is no incentive for government leaders to encourage interaction. We've cultivated a generation of risk-averse managers. They don't use social media, so they fear it. Instead of mitigating risk, they ban what they fear. Then they wonder why young Americans are turned off at the prospect of working for the federal government.

Posted by: Cheeseconey | August 5, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

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