Army Orders End to Ban on Facebook, Twitter

The U.S. Army issues an order to unblock the use of several social networking sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, at domestic installations. The order shows the Army is overcoming some of its reluctance to allow social networking, but it is still standing firm on its ban on sites such as MySpace and YouTube.

The U.S. Army has officially ended its ban on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, according to media reports.

In a memo dated May 18, the Army ordered its network managers to permit access to social networking sites as a means to "tell the Army story and to facilitate the dissemination of strategic, unclassified information." The order applies to all social media sites linked to on the Army's homepage, including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

The order, published here by Wired, applies to all domestic campus area networks and is meant to bring consistency to the Army's Web filtering policy. In practice, such sites were permitted at some domestic installations yet disallowed at others.

But not all social networking and Web 2.0 sites are getting the love. In fact, the memo explicitly states that sites such as MySpace, YouTube, hi5 and Photobucket are still on the no-go list. Still, the military's embrace of social networking sites of late-other branches of the armed forces have Facebook pages as well-shows it may be overcoming trepidations about social networking and in favor of enabling the secure use of such sites by personnel.

"Blocking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Google/Yahoo/Microsoft blogs, [and so on] is completely ineffective from a security standpoint," opined analyst Eric Ogren, with The Ogren Group. "People are going to communicate that's what we do, and in 2009 many choose to do that on the net. Security's job is to lower the risk and make that endeavor safer so it can be enjoyed."