When you think about organizations that embrace social media – you know, that newfangled paradigm that encourages two-way communication between enterprises, employees and consumers – the first one that springs to mind is the U.S. Army, right?
Actually, yeah. Reversing their tradition of banning military service members from using social sites like Twitter, MySpace and YouTube the Department of Defense officially released their official social media policy, Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026 last month. Since the title doesn’t exactly say it all (the DOD’s directive writer could use a face to face with a social media consultant, I’m just saying), I’ll recap.
As of now, users of NIRPNET (the DOD’s non-classified network) can use any kind of new media they want. So check Flickr for snaps of the Kandahar sunset, and Facebook for hints on what to stow in those care packages you’re still sending to the soldiers. (Right?) I don’t even want to know what we’ll see on YouTube.
(The DOD’s Social Media Page even has a handy graphic with fancy pop-up information on each of the popular social media sites. See?)
If you’ve noticed soldiers blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking before the oh-so-creatively-named Directive-Type Memorandum 09-026 came out, that’s because those soldiers were lucky enough to serve under commanders who allowed social media. The problem lay in the fact that some commanders arbitrarily shut soldiers out of social media sites, even going so far as making them close accounts or shutter blogs. This new policy specifically prohibits any one commander from making those decisions, essentially opening up access to social media to every member of the armed services.
In my opinion, while there are understandable security concerns (like the recent situation when an Israeli soldier posted details of an operation on Facebook), for the most part this can only be good for our armed services. In my opinion troop morale will soar as our fighting folks are able to have more up to date contact with their loved ones. It’s one thing to arrange for a session to talk to little Johnny and Jenny on the satellite phone, but quite another for the troops to read their spouse’s Facebook pages and keep abreast of the little details as life goes on back home in the country they are fighting for.
But it’s not all family, fun and games for our troops. The policy specifically prohibits some of the baser things in life, namely “pornography, gambling and hate-crime related activities.” So while we here at home can look at jiggly bits, lose our fortunes in a ridiculous manner, or start a Facebook group defaming bacon lovers, our men and women in the armed services still have to put up with a few restrictions on their internet usage.
But wait, there’s more! Uncle Sam also wants you to connect with him. Here are the vital details about how you too can Tweet with the U.S. Department of Defense:
Now I just have one question. What do you want to say to Uncle Sam?