Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Marine Corps Bans Social Media, Agree or Disagree?

Posted by Amanda Walsh

As social media continues to grow, inevitably some organizations are going to have backlash to the real-time, easy sharing of information to “followers” or more importantly family and friends across the world.

Reported on August 4 on CNN.com via wired.com, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) banned social media sites specifically Facebook, Twitter and MySpace on its network.

Policy changes were made in an effort to protect against “malicious actors” who could find “information leakage” via military personnel using social media sites.

The ironic part about this new policy mandate for the USMC is that the United States Army recently allowed social media on all of their USA posts excluding overseas posts and other armed forces. On June 10, Noah Shactman writes on wired.com about a private decree issued in May allowing sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to be allowed for soldiers to be able to “tell the Army story.”

Now with these recent changes in the USMC policy, Shactman posted on July 30 about the fear of a military-wide ban on social media. According to Shactman’s U.S. Army source, “We fought so hard for this. This is a huge step backwards.”

An article found on Ragan.com, reiterates the use of social media in the Army’s communication strategies. Their dedicated efforts have proven valuable and they are determined to continue using social media resources. The Army held a “top solider” competition that resulted in “more than 47,000 views of photos on their Flickr site, 18,000 views of their blog entries, and countless retweets of their announcements” in just four days!

This op-ed piece on huffingtonpost.com by Andy Sernovitz also provides great links to various news outlets covering the ban. I agree with Sernovitz when he says, “Social media is not a new security risk.”

He points out the fact that if troops are going to release data to outside sources, they could do so through telephone or e-mail just as easily as through a Facebook account.
Sernovitz suggests one way to combat misuse or information leakage is to increase trainings and communication of written policies.

My overall goal in reporting this news story was to convey to our readers the opposing arguments and views on social media. The USMC is going against the use of these social media vehicles while the Army has had a lot of success with them. Why do you think there is a difference in the branches?

My opinion lies with other social media users who advocate for more training for all military personnel to help familiarize them in the correct use of social media, but I’m interested in hearing yours too!

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