Web 2.0 review could lead to restricted use of social networking in DOD

Policy expected to balance risk and benefits of the technology

A review on the use of social media at the Defense Department will likely lead to a policy that allows the use of Web 2.0 tools with some restrictions due to security concerns, according to a DOD spokesman.

In an interview Sept. 22 on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation show, Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said the review is expected to highlight benefits of using social media and the potential risk.

Social media’s effect on the military’s operational security is one of the primary issues DOD officials are studying, he said. DOD expects to complete the review in about two weeks.

“In the past, when a soldier, airman, Marine sent home a letter to their family or loved ones and had information in it that might have been sensitive, it could have been read by two or three people, and that was it,” Floyd said.

“The problem now with social networking is that when you Twitter that information that might be sensitive on your Twitter account or put it on your Facebook page, thousands of people see it immediately, and then thousands more could see it as it's forwarded on to others. And so the ramifications of making a mistake, of putting things that shouldn't be on there on those sites, are even greater than they used to be,” he said.

Despite the risks, Floyd said he does not expect DOD-wide ban on social media.

“I believe [the policy] will understand and encourage the use of social networking because of the benefits that are there but also understand and underscore the risks there,” he said. “Therefore, education, training folks to know how to use these sites safely, how to communicate with your family in a way that doesn't give out information that those who may want to try to do us harm could use.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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