We’ve all heard the horror stories about people letting the wrong information slip on Twitter, or losing a job because they posted kegger shots of themselves on Facebook. What if the information or photos you let slip meant compromising your entire country?
If you pay attention at all to the news online, you’ve probably heard by now that the US Marine Corps has decided to put in place a ban against military personnel using social networking sites, including MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter while at work. Interestingly enough, the Marine computer network already blocks these popular sites, as well as several others . . . though the official ban just went into effect on Monday. That means this isn’t something new.
So what is really going on? According to Marine officials, they are reevaluating the security risks involved with social media and getting ready to implement a waiver that will . . . allow people to access the social media sites to do their job. That’s right, it’s actually the OPPOSITE of what we’ve been hearing!
You see, social media is so useful that the Department of Defense is looking at how to turn it into a recruiting tool. They already have a Facebook page with over 75,000 fans, but are planning to launch a full-scale social media program shortly. According to Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, the military has been using new Internet capabilities to contact families with information, as well as for recruiting purposes and as a medium for public relations, which would indicate that they are decidedly NOT against social media.
Another thing you may have heard is that Marines are not permitted to contact people via Twitter, Facebook, etc. at all, which is completely untrue. Anyone in the military is permitted to use social networks on their own, personal computers. So, when a Marine goes home, he or she is more than welcome to post a status update on Twitter, play Mafia Wars on Facebook or LOL with friends on MySpace.
Is this really about national security then? Many workplaces ban the use of Facebook and Twitter, but not for security reasons. You know as well as I do how easy it is to get caught up and spend hours on a social media network . . . at the workplace that means less work being done. I fail to see how banning social media through military computer networks would prevent any security leaks, to tell you the truth. If someone really wants to get the information out there, they can just go home and post their classified tips for all the terrorists to see. It certainly sounds better to say that it is a matter of utmost security though, doesn’t it?