Friday, February 26, 2010

Official Department of Defense Social Media Policy released

The Department of Defense's long-awaited official social media policy has finally hit the streets.

This morning, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Mr. Price Floyd, issued the official DoD guidelines on social media.

To view the new policy memorandum, visit

To read a recent PC Magazine article on the new policy, go here.

While the new policy basically gives the green light to uniformed personnel to engage in such online social media tools as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, the memorandum raises concerns regarding ethics, operational security and privacy.

"This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st Century Internet tools," said Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III.

In a press release issued today, the DoD asks commanders and heads at all levels of the DoD to continue to defend against malicious activities on military information networks, to deny access to prohibited sites (gambling, pornography or sites which encourage hate-crime related activities), and take immediate and commensurate actions, as required to safeguard the missions of our country's military members.

The memorandum also makes it policy that non-classified DoD networks be configured to provide access to Internet-based capabilities across all DoD components. The DoD also included a Q&A which gives insight into how they expect the military services to leverage social media tools.

As recently as 2009, individual military branches were considering a near total ban on access for their members to social media networks.

While the squabbling over access ensued, the DoD queried each branch of the military, asking them for their particular 'best practices' in dealing with the world of social media. To listen to the National Public Radio interview with Mr. Floyd, and the story on social media in the military, check out the audio transcript here.

The DoD also launched a pro-social media campaign via none other than the very avenue in question--blogs, Twitter and Bloggers Roundtable discussions. Indeed, Mr. Floyd as their biggest social networking proponent, appeared as a regular guest on and other online venues, touting the benefits of the military adopting this new "social" way of communication.

In late 2009, with the DoD deadline for ideas and submissions looming, the Social Media Chief for the National Guard Bureau, Mr. Rick Breitenfeldt, submitted National Guard social media guidelines to the DoD. Input to this document was provided from National Guard Bureau Public Affairs, and NGB's very own social media program, which by that time had been in place for almost a year.

At the same time, Oregon had been building a social media program of its own, complete with over-arching guidelines and policy. The guidelines cited specific information contained in Air Force Instruction (AFI), DoD Directives, and in the Uniform Military Code of Justice (UCMJ), in addition to industry best practices and corporate Internet user policies.

By the start of 2010, the Oregon National Guard informed the media about their official Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account, YouTube page, and a Flickr account. By then, its own official blog, which boasted hundreds of posts was a "go-to" resource for many followers, and the Oregon National Guard Twitter page had become a resource for breaking news. All the Oregon National Guard sites were registered with both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force official registry sites, as required by these two services. To view both pages, go here, and here, respectively.

The Oregon National Guard was also heavily involved in social bookmarking, actively monitored blogs, and stayed abreast of other government agencies' social media sites. It also kept an eye on blogs and Facebook pages of other Oregonians--partly to keep abreast of new developments in the blogosphere, and partly to ensure its own members were not overstepping the boundaries established by the Oregon National Guard's own fledgling guidelines.

As it stands today, the Oregon National Guard's social media effort is not earth-shattering in any way, shape or form. Our followers number in the low thousands--but through our various online tools, we continue to provide robust and diverse topics of discussion and information to our followers and online friends.

Moreover, we have leveraged these powerful communication tools during emergency response--utilizing Twitter and Facebook to communicate updates to our followers and members of the local media during the recent Mount Hood rescue attempt in Jan. 2010, and during important events involving our Airmen and Soldiers, including mobilizations, homecomings, community events, and items which benefit our members and their families.

I have heard from many of our fellow National Guard members throughout the country that the Oregon National Guard runs a model social media program that is often the envy of other states' public affairs offices. This is perhaps the best compliment we could have ever received.

But these kudos are not possible without you, our audience. We thank you for your support and your patronage. We constantly strive to provide you--regardless if you are a member of the Oregon National Guard, or a family member, friend, employer, supporter, or a member of the general public--with quality information, entertainment and discussions, of and about Oregon's citizen-Airmen and citizen-Soldiers.

We invite you to give us your feedback. Let us know how we are doing, and ideas about making our social media program better.

In the coming days, I plan to lay out the the DoD guidelines side by side next to the Oregon National Guard guidelines to ensure we are in sync. Chances are, since I assisted in drafting U.S. Air Force social media guidelines during the summer of 2008, and leveraged that work to create the Oregon National Guard social media guidelines later that year, we're probably pretty darn close.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

Editor's Note: One other noteworthy point to come out of the official DoD guidelines on social media is the requirement of disclaimers on all opinion pieces--and I am more than happy to comply. So here goes:

"The views expressed in posts on the Oregon Military Department blog are those of the author(s), and do not reflect the opinions or policies of the Department of Defense, the National Guard Bureau, or the Oregon National Guard or any of its entities."

1 comment:

Military Loans said...

I think its great that soldiers can now express themselves through social media!