Why Is The Army Unblocking Some Social Media Sites, But Not Others?
The U.S. Army ordered network managers to stop blocking soldiers' access to some social media sites, including Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. But why is the Army apparently allowing access to some social networking sites, like Facebook, but not others, like Facebook's competitor MySpace?
The U.S. Army ordered network managers to stop blocking soldiers' access to some social media sites, including Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter. But why is the Army apparently allowing access to some social networking sites, like Facebook, but not others, like Facebook's competitor MySpace?The Army is only opening the doors to social media sites partway. Army public affairs managers have been using Flickr, Delicious, and Vimeo aggressively, featuring inks to those sites on the army.mil home page, building a Facebook group, and posting more than 4,100 photos to Flickr, according to Wired's Danger Room blog.
Yet the people presumably most interested in these sites — the troops — were prevented from seeing the material. Many Army bases banned access to the social networks.
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An operations order from the Army’s 93rd Signal Brigade to all domestic Directors of Information Management, or DOIMs, aims to correct that. Issued on May 18th “for official use only,” the document has not been made public until now.
It is “the intent of senior Army leaders to leverage social media as a medium to allow soldiers to ‘tell the Army story’ and to facilitate the dissemination of strategic, unclassified information,” says the order, obtained by Danger Room. Therefore, “the social media sites available from the Army homepage will be made accessible from all campus area networks. Additionally, all web-based email will be made accessible.”
The operations order (OPORD) doesn’t apply to all GI Bases overseas, or those run by the other armed services, which aren’t affected by the decree.
Moreover, the order doesn't overturn a long-standing, military-wide ban on sites including MySpace, YouTube, and Pandora.
So why is Facebook allowed, but MySpace blocked? Why is video-sharing site Vimeo allowed, but YouTube blocked? Why is photo-sharing site Flickr allowed, but Photobucket blocked? Why block Pandora?
The Photobucket blockage is particularly puzzling. While Flickr is popular with big nerds like me because of its tasty Web 2.0 coating, in my personal experience, normal people -- such as the kind of people who join the military -- are more likely to use Photobucket to share pictures of their family and friends.
An Army spokesman told Defense Systems that the order wasn't a reversal of policy, just an effort to address inconsistent and often arbitrary decisions made from base to base.
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