U.S. Marines social media ban will be used as an excuse by social media naysayers, but it shouldn't be

My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...Image by luc legay via Flickr

Mashable.com posts this morning that the Marines have banned Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace for security reasons. However, the ominous-sounding "Immediate Ban" is not as alarming as it seems because:

1. The ban is limited to the Marines' computer network. It's not a ban on ALL social media.

2. There is an exception for "mission-critical need". ("A. ACCESS MAY BE ALLOWED BY MCEN DESIGNATED ACCREDITATION AUTHORITY (DAA) THROUGH A WAIVER PROCESS.") One wonders why they feel the need to put EVERYTHING IN CAPS.

3. The Marines are knee deep in the use of social media for public affairs, as Mashable notes, maintaining a Facebook page with 75,105 fans.

It was reported yesterday that The Department of Defense is reviewing social media access on its computer networks too: "The announcement comes after the Pentagon had overcome initial reluctance and begun to embrace Facebook, Twitter and other social media, with even the country's top military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, issuing his own 'tweets.'"

DoD is looking into the option of keeping a separate computer outside the firewall for social media purposes, an option that makes a lot of sense to me. You keep the "Koobface" and other hacks out, while still retaining access for public affairs personnel who need social media to do their jobs effectively.

Point is, there are reasons why organizations may want to prevent employees from accessing social media sites - but that shouldn't be interpreted as an argument against their validity as a communications strategy. (And it would be easy for someone to use this case as ammo.)

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