The Army delivers social media to soldiers

The branch has been experimenting since October with its own secure version of Facebook

Through much of the past year, the Defense Department remained leery of approving social networking applications such as Facebook and MySpace for U.S. military personnel — for understandable reasons. The security issues seemed to outweigh any and all arguments for open dialogue and collaboration among officers and troops.

Now we learn that the Army has been experimenting since October with its own secure version of Facebook — dubbed milBook — and the Pentagon brass appears to be satisfied with the early results. The Army’s MilTech Solutions office published a press release in mid-January that announces the project and its plans to integrate security solutions across Army networks and communication platforms.

MilBook already as 18,000 members, said Justin Filler, deputy director of the MilTech Solutions office. “We prefer to categorize our sites as professional networking rather than social,” he said. “The topics, information and relationships are based largely on professional similarities and common grounds."

The milBook application joins an enclave of other federal social networking platforms modeled on popular mainstream sites, including the Navy Office of General Counsel’s internal Facebook or the Defense Intelligence Agency’s A-Space, also inspired by Facebook.

“Social networking … has become something of a phenomena, if not a way of life, for some folks. But who would have thought such a trend would impact the U.S. Army?” wrote Jack Browne on Microwaves & RF.

“I doubt the site means you can 'machete' your friends instead of 'poking' them,” wrote Anna Leach on the "Shiny Shiny" blog. “But it does mean that security is higher (these results will definitely not be coming up in google), and it gives Army personnel a securer way of contacting each other.”

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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