March 11th, 2010
February 26 the Department of Defense released Directive-Type memorandum (DTM) 09-026, DoD policy on social media and Internet based capabilities. In the works for months, the policy opened up access to social media on the military’s non-classified network (NIPRNET) and offered broad guidance concerning social media use.
For those in Army public affairs or anyone in the military actively using the Internet to communicate with friends and family, the policy was a welcome sign that social media is here to stay and DoD isn’t just recognizing its importance, it’s embracing it as both a communications platform and a critical piece in keeping our Soldiers and families connected.
I have a clear bias toward social media but it’s my opinion that in a time when our Soldiers are spending 12-15 months away from their families we have an obligation to ensure they have every means of communication possible – including social media. While operations security and network security trump communication, we have to mitigate risks to allow our Soldiers to express the freedom of communication they’re fighting to defend.
The clearest benefit of the DoD DTM is allowing our Soldiers and families to communicate with one another, but there are also three interesting points I want to bring to your attention:
1. The DoD DTM opens up access across the NIPRNET. We’ve already stated it, but that means across the board access needs to be set at “open.” Whether you’re in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti or Hawaii, you should be able to access social media from your government computer.
2. Restrictions on accessing social media sites can be placed but should only be done “temporarily” and restrictions must be commensurate with the risks. That means commanders still have the authority to shut down social media access but they must have a clear justification, and if they consider a long-term restriction the risk needs to justify it.
3. Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) should be aware of official social media presences but don’t have ultimate responsibility for every one. That means that spouse’s clubs, Family Readiness Groups, and other organizations that want to engage social media may do so. They should coordinate with their PAO but that PAO doesn’t need to administer every account.
The DTM creates a great opportunity for us but it also opens up a lot of questions. Over the next several weeks and months you’ll see additional guidance from the Department of Defense, Army Chief Information Office/G-6 and Army Public Affairs. We’ll keep you informed on those updates here at Army Live, and look forward to your questions, comments and feedback in our comments section.
Has social media access opened up at your post, camp or duty station, or is it still restricted? Let us know.
Lindy Kyzer, Army Public Affairs