Preston Gralla

Pentagon: Social networking sites are off-limits

May 14, 2007 9:27 PM EDT
Soldiers, in the U.S. as well as in Iraq and other overseas locations, will no longer be allowed to use a variety of social networking sites such as YouTube, MySpace, and several others. The reason? Security concerns as well as bandwidth problems.

Sound familiar? It should. Those are the same reasons that many corporations don't particularly like social networking sites either. Of course, in the military such concerns are greatly magnified.

The Associated Press reports that the military is worried that when soldiers blog or post videos to YouTube they may inadvertently reveal information about military operations that can be used by the enemy. In addition, the sites are bandwidth hogs, and the Pentagon wants to devote its bandwidth to more important matters.

While there are obvious reasons why the Pentagon is doing this, there are some potential problems as well. The move follows on the heels of the Pentagon cracking down on bloggers. Some people believe that it's an attempt to blunt any criticism of the Iraq war.

In addition, Noah Shachtman, who a national security blogger for Wired Magazine, told the Associated Press that soldiers' blogs are an excellent weapon in the propoganda war, and that by cracking down on blogs, the U.S. could be hurting itself in the long run.

"This is as much an information war as it is bombs and bullets," he told the Associated Press. "And they are muzzling their best voices."

The upshot? There are clear reasons for the Pentagon move, but it should recognize it's creating problems as well as solving them.