A U.S. Army order issued on May 18th permits access to five social media sites (Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, Twitter and Vimeo) within the continental U.S. Further, links to those pages will be placed on the Army web site Army.mil.
The order says that
… 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 …. 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.
Although bases overseas are not covered by this order, and some other sites like YouTube or MySpace remain banned (although the former is referenced from the U.S. Army site), this constitutes a very important step. Whether this is simply part of a more modern communication strategy by the Army or a way to let soldiers maintain links with their friends and families, it will be quite difficult now for civilian agencies at all levels of government to deny access.
Last Friday I had an inquiry with the information security officer in a state agency that currently bans all social media: the governor has been pressuring to give all employees access to several of these sites, but they had been able to resist while assessing security risks and developing a policy. The client told me that after the latest news from the Army there is little they can do, but comply.
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