Danger Room just broke that the DoD will almost certainly block Twitter, Facebook, and all other social networking sites on its networks.

Game Over for Social Media?

Game Over for Social Media?

The ban is all-but-certain, military officers and civilian employees say. Many are upset, because after years keeping the social networks at arms’ length, the armed services appeared to be finally embracing the Web 2.0 sites. The Army recently ordered all U.S. bases to provide access to Facebook. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has 4,000 followers on Twitter. The Department of Defense is getting ready to unveil a new home page, packed with social media tools…

People started working with these social networks “before we got a handle on how to use them in the context of the Department of Defense,” a Stratcom source says. “Now, they’re just too big of a headache.”

Unfortunate as ADM Allen and ADM Harvey noted the importance of outreach using these channels. However, the security concerns seem quite real. How can the DoD find a happy medium?

ADDENDUM: Somewhat ironic that DefenseLink featured a story on social media success in Iraq on the day Danger Room’s story broke.

“For the first four or five months there, I kept working through the system to get permissions to allow us to blog, go on YouTube, play with Facebook,” he said. “I wanted to engage in these social media forums, and you just couldn’t get access to them on your military computers.”

But Caldwell met with red tape everywhere he turned — until he mentioned his frustration to Casey, now Army chief of staff, during one of Casey’s monthly visits to the Combined Arms Center.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Just do it,’” Caldwell said. “And when I asked him if this meant he was giving his permission to do this, he said, ‘Absolutely.’ He said, ‘We have got to change the culture of the Army, and you can help make this happen.’”

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in Cyber

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  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hello, right hand? This is left hand. Whatcha doing?

  • Anathema

    We are so very, very stupid. What security risks should there be on an UNCLASSIFIED network? Are the leaders in our cyber community admitting that they are unable to “protect” in any other way than completely preventing access?

  • Fouled Anchor

    The security risk on unclas networks is the same as anyother unclas source, OPSEC. Open source intelligence, gathering information from newspapers magazines, telephones, etc, provides collectors a lot of very valuable information. I’m not defending a DoD decision against allowing social media, but there is a significant risk any time there is not a system of pre-publication security review.

  • Anonymouse

    Fouled Anchor – two completely different issues. We’re not talking about banning the use of Social Media by military members (which could be part of the OPSEC discussion)…instead what we are doing is banning said use on military networks. Your concerns are policy based. The “risks” that the DISA/NNWC world talks about are typically technological in nature and intrusion related. If it’s UNCLAS, by it’s nature it should not need to be protected. If it needs to be protected, then it should not be UNCLAS. Somehow I think we are headed back to the “For Official Use Only” world of military networks. Which, considering how ponderously slow they are is OK with me…so long as I can bring a modern connected laptop with me to an UNCLAS space and work on it when I need to find something that Big Brother has blocked…

  • Fouled Anchor

    Mouse, you’re correct in one respect. The risks associated with social networking in this instance, and apparently the reason for this decision, are associated with the potential of adversaries using these services to access our networks.

    You’re assesment of unclas information though is a bit off base. The essence of open source intelligence is exactly that it involves informaton that doesn’t officially need protection. It’s not just FOUO data…all bits of unclassified data can are valuable…sometimes alone but more often when combined from multiple sources. FOUO has legitimate uses, but it can/does lead to abuse.

  • fozzy

    I think we are missing the real point. Ultimately it is not “security” nor even technical complications/limitations that will lead the military to try and curtail these types of activities. It is political — as in the military tries mightily to control its image and its ‘message’ to the American public. Military commanders have tired of putting out a string of PR ‘fires’ caused by a variety of combinations of people (often young/junior) and technology (common and powerful/fast). The military is never going to be able to ‘transform’ 19 year olds into PR Officers who stay strictly on message. Social networking may provide a ‘window’ into the military —- but the military does not any ‘window’ that it does not control. In the Iraq/Afghan era the military has had to deal, for example, with ‘viral videos’ and phone/cam pics. Remember the “thrown puppy” video? The young marine posing next to a smiling youth with a “I raped his sister” poster? Those wonderful snaps from Abu Ghraib? An email from an officer — filled with lies about Obama’s visit to Kuwait — that ended up getting mass-forwarded? The home-made videos of mercs blasting random cars to an Elvis Presley tune? Those are just a few examples from the top of memory that all had the chain-of-command scrambling. An opinion or a pithy quote, even from the most insubstantial private, can suddenly be quoted, requoted, and brandished not only across the internet but also the ‘traditional’ media which increasingly take their cues from it.