On Tuesday, we reported that the Marine Corps had issued a directive forbidding Marines from using social networks – from Facebook to Twitter – on the Corps grid. The reason, according to the order: “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."
Several analysts, including Andy Sernovitz, a lecturer at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, disagreed vehemently with the directive, pointing out that stopping some Marines from tweeting wasn't going to do the trick. "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," Sernovitz wrote on the Huffington Post.
Well, today Twitter-gate – as we are somewhat hyperbolically dubbing the debate – continues unabated. The latest to the enter the fray is Admiral Michael Mullen, the recently-appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen is an unrepentant tweeter: he has just under 5,000 followers, not such a shabby number, and he regularly updates his Twitter feed. (Which is more than we can say for Sarah Palin, who seems to have disappeared off the lip of the Twitter-verse.)
A quick civics lesson, for the rusty-of-mind: the Joints Chiefs of Staff advises the president and the congress on the affairs of all four branches of the US military. That includes the Marines. And after the Marines Corps directive on social networks, Mullen headed straight to Twitter to tell folks what he thought. "Obviously we need to find right balance between security and transparency," he wrote. "We are working on that. But am I still going to tweet? You bet."
A nice compromise. But some are still arguing that the Corps should allow its Marines to have full access. "[T]he families of deployed service men and women long for correspondence and updates of whereabouts and well being," Brian Kraemer writes on Channel Web. "Ignoring the technology is shortsighted and, given the military's need for the latest and greatest, somewhat surprising."
According to a report from Voice of America, the US Marines are the only branch of the military currently under any sort of ban. But Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn recently ordered a wider review of social network use in all four branches, including the Army.
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