The Department of Defense has once again decided to support social networking, but with a few rules

The Pentagon has allowed U.S. military personnel to begin using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other popular social networking services.

The new government-issued rules offer guidelines for "safe and effective use of internet-based capabilities," and includes support for Google Apps, Wiki pages, blogs, YouTube, and other popular Web 2.0 apps.

Access to gambling, hate-crime sites, pornography, and other questionable content is still prohibited, the government said.

"This directive recognizes the importance of balancing appropriate security measures while maximizing the capabilities afforded by 21st century Internet tools," said William J. Lynn III, Deputy Defense Secretary, who was responsible for signing the new DOD policy.  

The DOD has had some difficult experiences with social media, and it remained even more confusing since each branch had their own rules regarding social networking.  Social media can be used to easily and quickly reach out to colleagues, other military members, and friends and family -- but DOD officials expect to create new rules to explain basic rules and guidelines for employees and military members.  

If necessary, commanders are allowed to restrict online access if there is a significant bandwidth constraint or operational security issue.  There are still different ways this decision could come back to haunt the DOD, but with even more recruiters and government agencies using social media, now may be the best time to adapt.

The Pentagon recently lifted its internal ban on flash drives, even though the military has been very strict about the use of flash drives on all DOD computers.  Last February, a New Zealand man purchased an MP3 player from a second-hand store that contained U.S. military data, including troop deployments and personal information of troops.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch
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