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Signs Of Support For DoD 2.0

The Department of Defense's new Web 2.0 Guidance Forum is intended to help shape the military's policy on use of social networking tools.

An online forum created to promote discussion about the use of social media by the U.S. military is buzzing with commentary. The White House is pointing to the forum as an example of the type of openness and transparency the Obama administration seeks to encourage among federal agencies.

The Department of Defense's DoD Web 2.0 Guidance Forum was launched a few weeks ago to explore social media policies and seek public input. The site has garnered almost 200 comments, including many on the use of Web 2.0 by military families. There seems to be wide agreement by soldiers and their families on the value of social media in helping to keep families together during long deployments.

According to the blog, the DoD wants to hear from the public as well as stakeholders such as interest groups, the Web 2.0 community and, "most importantly," soldiers. The department wants to generate discussion on Web 2.0 and social media policy, on the use of Web 2.0 tools by friends and families of military personnel and their value to Defense operations, and commercial social networking services.

The DoD continues to tread with caution. Social media have emerged as "integral tools in day-to-day operations," deputy defense secretary William Lynn recently wrote in a memo, according to reports. "However, with any Internet-based capabilities, there are implementation challenges and operations risks that must be understood and mitigated."

The U.S. military has been sensitive about the use of social media on its networks; just last week, the Marine Corps issued an administrative order banning the use of social networks on Marine networks.

At the same time, the military has launched a number of collaborative and social media projects, including a YouTube-like video channel called TroopTube. And, in June, the Army unblocked a few social media sites including Facebook and Twitter in the United States. Such inconsistencies in practice could be addressed by the Department of Defense review.

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