An associated press article just hit the streets with the Marine Corps announcement that they are banning access to social networking sites.
It will be interesting to hear the details behind this choice of banning over governance. This begs many questions like:
- What are the results of the risk v. benefit report cited?
- What actual risks were encountered or anticipated?
- Is the concern network security or human behavior risk?
- Why wouldn’t good governance minimize the risk?
- Is this a national security issue or an enterprise security issue?
- What sites are banned and how will they stop people from accessing other social Web sites?
- Are they precluding their military recruiters from using facebook or are there exceptions?
- How will this impact their ability to recruit young people who practically live on these social sites?
Many, maybe even the majority, of organizations have moved out of the “Fear” adoption stage so this announcement bucks the trend. There are lots of questions and the Marine Corps runs the risk of significantly negatively impacting their image.
See “The Business Impact of Social Computing on Company Governance” for an explanation of Gartner’s six stages of social media adoption and “Toolkit: Establishing Policy for Social Software Applications” for research on establishing an effective policy for social media (research available to clients or for a fee).
All technologies have a down side. Planes, helicopters, trucks, and automobiles crash. Weapons unintentionally hurt people. Children drown in pools every year. Yet we don’t ban these things, we adjust our behaviors to increase the benefits and reduce the risks. Why would social networking (or the Internet/Web in general) be any different?