To have and not have–DoD social media access

Lately, there have been numerous articles about social media and the Department of Defense. One day there’s an article that most sites will be accessible, then later there’s an article that they’ll be closed. Today, an article in Stars and Stripes described this as, “a bad case of social networking schizophrenia” because of the near-daily changing tide.

On July 31, Maj. Gen. Henry C. “Hank” Morrow, 1st Air Force commander, wrote a commentary on titled, “The ‘happy’ medium between OPSEC and social networking: Can it be achieved?” The General postulates, “Advocates for the sites feel they provide a forum where ideas, opinions and imagery can be freely shared with a worldwide audience. Antagonists feel that posting too much information can compromise operational security, or worse cost troops their lives, simply from a 140-character “tweet.” “So, is there a happy medium between the two? From a commander’s perspective, I believe the answer is yes, provided users stick to three basic rules of engagement.” The General goes on to lay out his guidelines for how social media can be made viable by following common sense.

So if we don’t find a happy medium, where does that leave those of us who maintain these social networking sites for the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines? We don’t know. Most of us who administer the sites are public affairs people. We don’t get the final say on what sites are open or blocked. The best that we can do is offer suggestions to the communications and CIO types. Ultimately, if they say that a site will be closed, it will be closed. What that means is that Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines will have to access sites from home or via a commercial modem (as many currently do). Overall though, our hope is that we’ll continue to provide news and stories to the public and the military members using the growing social networks, and continue to allow every Airman to be a communicator.

In the meantime, you can follow the conversation and register your comments on the DoD Web 2.0 Guidance Forum. The site is “a new [Department of Defense] initiative to solicit input from the public” and “an approach to engage the public in DoD considerations of web 2.0 capabilities.”

As always, send us your comments or suggestions about what you want to see on the Air Force social media sites. We welcome your input. And keep an eye out for some upcoming changes and updates on our sites.

Paul F. Bove, Digital Media Strategist

Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Emerging Technology Division