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For US Marines, a ban on Twitter and Facebook

By Matthew Shaer / August 4, 2009



For Marines stationed abroad, social networks are a handy way to keep in touch with family and friends back home. But a new order today bans the use of sites such as Twitter and Facebook, which the Marine Corps says could be used to spread "malicious" content. "The very nature of [social networks] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries, and provides an easy conduit for information leakage," the order reads.

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The directive does not affect Marines' use of private computers – only the machines that are connected to the central Marine Corps grid. According to the Associated Press, "the reason for the new ban was to set up a special waiver system that [governs] access for Marines who need to reach the sites as part of their duties." Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, the AP reports, has ordered a review of the threats of use of social networks and blogging platforms.

Several critics have already assailed the directive, including Andy Sernovitz, a lecturer at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. "The ban is going to hurt morale," Sernovitz writes on the Huffington Post:

On top of this, it's not going to work. Everyone has access to a $99 iPhone, texting, and the Web. The Iranian government couldn't stop Twitter. We'll look like idiots for trying. Social media is not a new security risk. Anyone dumb enough to reveal sensitive data by social media can already do it on the phone and by email.... If the [Department of Defense] wants to avoid security risks from social media, they need to increase its use. Get everyone familiar with it and train them on proper procedures. Move it underground and you guarantee leaks.

But Price Floyd, the media czar at the Pentagon, told Wired that security is paramount. “What we can’t do is let security concerns trump doing business," Floyd said. "We have to do business… We need to be everywhere men and women in uniform are and the public is. If that’s MySpace and YouTube, that’s where we need to be, too.”

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