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Social Media Sites Provide Morale Boost, Official Says

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2010 – A newly introduced Defense Department social media policy opens doors that can provide a morale boost for families and troops serving in a war zone, a senior official who helped to design the policy said this week.

Speaking yesterday on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” Price B. Floyd said the families he’s talked to describe Web sites such as Facebook and Skype as “invaluable” for keeping in touch with their deployed family members.

“In fact, they talk about the ability for their kids to do homework with their parent who's at war in real time,” Floyd said. “And that kind of morale boost that happens when you're able to do that is immeasurable.”

Floyd was appointed as the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs last year, when the department had no social media policy in place, and he worked to design a policy that balances openness with the department’s security needs.

The new policy, issued last month, authorizes access to Web 2.0 platforms from nonclassified government computers, as long as it doesn’t compromise operational security or involve prohibited activities or Web sites. Access also is subject to local bandwidth availability.

Floyd said dealing with operational security is not new for the military, and that those using the sites should be aware that what they do and say on the sites can be monitored.

“Operational security is operational security, no matter where you are. You need to be cognizant of what you say and write, either on a cell phone or in a Twitter or social media site,” Floyd said. “It can be seen and heard not just by the people you're … sending the message to, but by the enemies as well.”

Floyd said a new training program is available on the Defense Department’s Web site that serves to educate users how to use social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook responsibly.

Besides allowing families and troops to stay connected, Floyd said, social media sites also have battlefield implications.

“Men and women who are in the field fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq are sending back and communicating with people back here in the States to update the counterinsurgency manual -- how we fight counterinsurgency wars -- in real time,” he said. “We don't have to wait several years or until the conflict is over to do that, and we're able to do that because of this technology.”

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Biographies:
Price B. Floyd

Related Sites:
Defense Department Social Media Hub

Related Articles:
New Policy Authorizes Social Media Access, With Caveats



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