Pentagon Social Media Czar Pushes Web 2.0, Despite Ban Threat
Last week, Danger Room broke the news that the Defense Department is considering banning access to Facebook, Twitter and all other Web 2.0 social networking sites from military computers, on the advice of the I.T. gurus at U.S. Strategic Command. “They make it way too easy for people with bad intentions to push malicious code to unsuspecting users,” a Stratcom source said of the sites.
But Price Floyd, the military’s new social-networking czar, said no final decision has been made yet regarding a Web 2.0 block. “An analysis… is being conducted,” Floyd, pictured, told Danger Room.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman earlier stressed that the “answer is somewhere between” total access and an all-out ban. An Air Force commentator wrote that this middle ground should be defined by military users’ “common sense.” “When in doubt, backspace it out,” Maj. Gen. Hank Morrow wrote. This middle approach is at odds with Stratcom’s “ban ‘em all” attitude.
Floyd, the new Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, is in a particularly delicate position. He says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hired him in June for the sole purpose of “using the technology — both the websites and software out there now — that enable [Gates] to engage and hear from people in a way and manner that wasn’t possible before.” A blanket Web 2.0 prohibition would obviously complicate Floyd’s mission.
Possible ban or no, Floyd is pushing ahead with a wide array of Web 2.0 initiatives. His first act was to sign up the Pentagon for a Twitter account, under his name. He got blogs included in the military’s influential “Early Bird” clipping service. (Headline #11 today: “Army Farmers Work to Regrow Afghanistan.”) Next up: a new Department of Defense [DoD] web site, launching in August. It “will have links to Facebook and Twitter. And at the right [of the site], people can vote on questions they’d like answered by the Secretary — and they can do same thing [voting] on policy.”
The new site will welcome debate on even the most controversial topics, Floyd says. “The idea is that the software out there … it’s not that I pick questions and people vote on them, it [the site] can aggregate … If people are saying [in comments] that we should pull out of Iraq sooner, the top five questions will come out [reflecting] whatever they are saying. We’ll have things there that are not DoD policy. The Secretary’s answer to is, that he can’t image why that would be problem. He really gets it.”
“[Internet] security is important,” Floyd said. “Opsec [operational security] is paramount. We will have procedures in place to deal with that. The DoD is, in that sense, no different than any big company in America. What we can’t do is let security concerns trump doing business. We have to do business… We need to be everywhere men and women in uniform are and the public is. If that’s MySpace and YouTube, that’s where we need to be, too.”
He added, “I don’t want to minimize security [concerns]. But this is not a DoD-only issue. It’s not a question of total security or total access to everything. There is a place we need to find [in the middle] where we’re able to go where we need to go and people can come in and see us, and yet we’re also protecting the network.”
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i love the danger room. glad i remembered not to increase the threat level….. no nanobugs for this chick! i have enough bugs and worms to crash… well… hmmm… maybe i oughta stfu… pretty sure i’m already on THAT list 😉