UK Forces Encouraged To Use Facebook, Youtube

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Military authorities have outlined how service personnel should use social networks while the US appears to have taken a stricter approach

While the UK is often seen as lagging behind the US when it comes to the sophistication of its military technology, the Ministry of Defence is backing the use of social networking technology while the American Department of Defense recently banned use of such systems by some of its personnel.

The MOD announced “Online Engagement Guidelines” for social networks this week which give specific guidelines on how to use the technology safely and securely.

“Service and MOD civilian personnel are encouraged to talk about what they do, but within certain limits to protect security, reputation and privacy. An increasingly important channel for this engagement, and to keep in touch with family and friends is social media (such as social networking sites, blogs and other internet self-publishing),” the MOD said in a statement.

The MOD is keen for personnel to use social networking sites to talk with family and friends as long as they don’t discuss any sensitive information. Civilian personnel are also encouraged to use blogs and other online platforms to communicate some aspects of their work but again are asked to carefully consider any information posted on the web.

“Service and MOD civilian personnel are encouraged to talk about what they do within certain limits to protect security, reputation and privacy,” the MOD stated. “Such online presences provide an opportunity for Service and MOD civilian personnel to explain their work. But they also carry risks to individuals, to their Service and to Defence.”

The Pentagon announced earlier this month that it is reviewing its policies toward social networking sites amid network security and other concerns. According to reports, U.S. officials have ordered a review of the threats and benefits of using Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook and others. The review is slated to be completed by the end of September.

News of the review follows an order issued on 3 Aug banning the U.S. Marine Corps from accessing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter from the Marine Corps Enterprise Network (MCEN). The order does not disallow Marines from using the networks on their personal computers outside of work.