Army gives soldiers access to Twitter, Facebook

An Army order instructs network managers to unblock certain social media sites

An Army order directs network managers across the country to stop blocking soldiers’ access to certain Web 2.0 Web sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, according to several media reports today.

The order issued May 18 jointly by the 93rd and 106th Signal Brigades, permits access to five social media sites within the continental U.S, said Stephen Bullock, strategic communication director for 7th Signal Command, which oversees the brigades.

Bullock said the order “wasn’t really a reversal of policy,” as much as an effort to address inconsistent and often arbitrary decisions that had been made from base to base. “So we gave guidance that made it a consistent set of web filtering standards, resulting in better service for our users,” he said.


A reader responds:

Great Idea! What possible risks could there be with warfighters posting their minute by minute activiites to a semi-public site?

What do you think? Scroll down to read more comments or post your own.


Access should be available to Facebook: Delicious, Flickr, Twitter and Vimeo via the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, he said.

As reported on Wired.com, the order states: “The intent of senior Army leaders to leverage social media as a medium to allow soldiers to ‘tell the Army story’ and to facilitate the dissemination of strategic, unclassified information, the social media sites available from the Army homepage will be made accessible from all campus area network."

The order also instructs network managers to block several Web site including: Photobucket, MySpace and Live365.

The order also says Blackberry servers should also be configured to allow access to the now unblocked sites.

The order coincides with a push at the Military Health System to use social media Web sites, according to Fox News.

About the Authors

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sat, Jun 27, 2009 Danny T IM IN BAGHDAD RIGHT NOW.

Most of you guys who put that you will have "more work to do" are contracted civilians who get paid to leave early and have BBQs every third week ANYWAY..and for the "SFC", who is their right mind is going to give out information about one of their FRIENDS (those ARE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES) to someone ELSE they dont know? You are a killjoy, and I guarantee soldiers will find other ways to have fun, such as hawking loogies in the cups of their fun-snuffing superiors. The purpose of the whole endeavor was to allow soldiers to tell wahts going on with them as a PERSON...NOT as a soldier. I think you, SFC, have NO life whatsoever outside of the Army, but it isnt even logical to think everyone else is like YOU.

OPSEC is beat into our brains at like Pv2. If they dont have it by NOW, Sarge, its NOT going to stick. Stop being so old fashioned, and adapt and overcome.

"Great Idea! What possible risks could there be with warfighters posting their minute by minute activiites to a semi-public site?"

You mean like CNN, who had reporters NEXT TO THE WARFIGHTER AS HE ACTUALLY FOUGHT...LIVE?

"Im standing here next to a Sergeant who's fighting for his life right now..."

"Im here on the OTHER side with the insurgents as they fight the Americans..."

You guys are so high minded you are no longer useful. The soldiers need as much morale-raising as can be given. We are in a war we DONT want to be in, for a cause that isnt clearly defined. Why dont you fight THAT?

Mon, Jun 22, 2009 EM NC

Just for the record Mike. I think is a mistake and completely stupid. I can tell that you never served and that you don't know anything about soldiering... Our enemies already know lots about us... now they get to see the social network of every individual troop. Smart Idea!!!! For those saying that is OK you must be ashamed... If any of my soldiers is using your tax money to play on facebook is because I have fail as their leader and fail you. SFC,US

Mon, Jun 22, 2009 Mike DC

The paranoid reaction to this decision is ridiculous. Roman has it right: we trust our troops with so much already (as we should) -- if you believe a little additional Internet access will turn our troops into virtual spies for our enemies, well, if I were a soldier I'd be pretty upset with such a lack of faith.

P.S. "insistance", "speach", "serf" the Internet? Don't worry, Bill, nobody will be able to translate horrible English like that.

Thu, Jun 18, 2009 Romanandpan Los Angeles

'No more hiding'? ' the enemy is on the web too!' Are you people for real? If leaders instill in their soldiers good sense of opertional security, what's the problem in trusting the soldiers with a website? After all? We give them automatic weapons and trust them to police 3rd world countries where they can't even speak the language. Don't be so paranoid, and have a little more faith in our troops.

Fri, Jun 12, 2009 Bill

Don't fool yourself, the enemy out there knows english and they are better armed on the internet than we are. Our insistance on freedom of speach and freedom of expression (mind you I support both) make us the perfect target. The Army is only giving us more work to do as we now have to monitor more public sites for sensitive information. And by the way, if soldiers/federal civilians are so over worked - when do they have time to serf the net at the office?

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