The new policy allowing access to social media from computers connected to the Department of Defense’s unclassified network balances the mission value of Web 2.0 tools and the need for security, said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Price B. Floyd.
Since being appointed to his new position last June, Floyd has been promoting the use of various social media to spread the DoD’s message.
“This means all [DoD] components have been told … that the default switch on access is to be open,” Floyd said at a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable. “It’s balanced with the need to be security-conscious and tells the combatant commands to continue to deny access to sites when people try to access them inappropriately.”
The new policy supports longstanding regulations denying access to Web sites with inappropriate content, such as gambling, hate crimes or pornography, he said. The policy also considers the importance of operational security, which he said becomes more important because of social media’s reach.
“Don’t say or do anything on these sites you wouldn’t say or do in any other form of communication,” he said. “The people here in public affairs have started an education campaign to push out both the fact that we have this new policy, and the need to use it appropriately.”
The policy comes largely as a result of a culture shift outside the DoD, Floyd said. That shift needs to be carried over into the department’s culture, he added, as young people, many of whom have grown up using sites such as MySpace and Facebook, join the military.
“I think we have work here to do at the Defense Department,” Floyd said. “People who are coming into the military take all of this for granted. They can’t imagine a world where one didn’t have access to these sorts of sites. For those of us who are a little longer in the tooth, it’s only been in the past few years that we’ve seen these developments and discovered how useful they can be. So we have some education and cultural shifting to do.”
The early months of the new policy will be a learning period for everyone, Floyd said. In six months, he added, a review will lead to further guidance. However, for now, he encouraged exploration of social media.
“We shouldn’t be so dogmatic about this stuff,” he said. “Try new things, see what works. What works for me here in Washington might not work on a base somewhere else. I would encourage people to open a Twitter account, create a Facebook page, and see what works for them and their audience.”