DOD may ban Twitter, Facebook, other social media

Security issues prove difficult

The Defense Department is considering banning Twitter, Facebook and other social-networking sites for security reasons.

Wired's Danger Room blog reported that the reason for the latest proposed ban is that the sites may give hackers easy access to military networks.

“The mechanisms for social networking were never designed for security and filtering," said an unnamed source at U.S. Strategic Command in the blog entry. "They make it way too easy for people with bad intentions to push malicious code to unsuspecting users. It’s just a fact of life."

Strategic Command has asked the rest of the military for feedback on a social-media ban, Wired's blog reported.

“The answer is somewhere between” full access and a total bad, said DOD spokesman Bryan Whitman, quoted in a Navy Times article. “We’re working through this challenge of how do we operate in this environment — because these are important communication tools — and at the same time, provide the necessary protection to our systems [and] ensure the necessary operational security and private security concerns that any organization would have.”

The potential ban comes at a time when the DOD has overcome some of its initial reluctance and begun to embrace social media. The Armed Forces Press Services reports that the Army, for just one example, has been using MySpace effectively for recruiting.


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Reader comments

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 Phil north carolina

How disappointing, as more Generation Y people join the military and civil service in DOD, leaders need to realize this is used everywhere and important as a communication skill. We're going to limit or block them because of security concerns? If they are blocked, we potentially face losing good employees and soldiers/marines/airmen/sailors, but will be completely unprepared for future technology. While we're discussing blocking social networks, why not block everything else (such as FCW) as they clearly have no need to be on DoD networks. Wake up, people.

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 DOD-Detroit Detroit

Wow. I'm amazed that anyone, especially a DOD spokesperson, would think that "Twitter" and "Facebook" are "...important communication tools..." That statement, in the context of the Department of Defense use of it, is absolutely absurd. There's no need for Twitter or Facebook within the DOD. Unless someone can cite specific reasons why either of these two SNSs improve national security, then they have no place on DOD networks.

Tue, Aug 4, 2009 Tom Collins

Wow! This comes shortly after the National Defense University released it's report recommending that DoD "embrace [social media's] responsible usage" and warned that "[f]ailure to adopt these tools may reduce an organization's relative capabilities over time." Among their observations, national security requires extensive DoD participation in social media for both it's rapid communication and listening funcions -- not putting their heads in the sand. Arty Wright's logic is inescapable! And of course, any such "ban" will be about as effective as the ones by Iran and China. Do we want to become them? Only the really important leaks will get out!

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 benbree VA

Ban is a bad word and poor for morale. Banning the sites with no access (via a kisok, separate network, etc) suggests that there is no one in all of DOD who has a working solution that provides access and maintains security. This is simply not true and is embarrassing for someone who served his country. Let's address the issue and move away from silly blanket policies.

Mon, Aug 3, 2009 tera hawaii

Social Media is still at risk, whether Gov is using it or not. Those who produce those websites (Facebook, mySpace, etc) are ALSO exposing all of their CUSTOMERS, and should be doing everything that they can, as a provider, to minimize risk and prevent or reduce intrusion. Wouldn't that, in turn, place Gov, as a customer, at less risk??

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