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Pentagon preps new social media rules

by Mike Hoffman on August 17, 2012

The Pentagon is late on issuing it’s latest set of rules for service members on how to use popular social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Defense Department officials have been working towards a new directive on social media to replace the old rules that were set to expire July 15. The expiration date was extended when it became clear leadership couldn’t settle on new guidance until later this year. No specific date has been given for the release.

The previous directive-type memorandum (DTM) was published in 2010. A lot has changed in social media in the past two years. However, the Pentagon never tried to be too specific on the technology side of social media. They managed to keep it down to a two-pager on general use of “Internet based capabilities.”

Some have suggested the next set of social media rules will come in the form of a manual as the  Pentagon would collapse upon itself without manuals to know how to operate. As service members wait with baited breath to see if military leadership approves of their Tweets and Facebook posts, we here at Defense Tech speculated on what the social media guidance might look like. It’s Friday so we went bullet style.

  • Perhaps they can have a more involved guidance on voice and OPSEC, while keeping specific guidance on technology extremely limited. “The Navy encourages service members to tell their stories” in their social media guide. The Navy’s guidance is an evergreen piece created in 2010. It does not try to explain any specific social media network and goes for the big picture.
  • Marines, as usual, have aimed to be thorough and specific in their directive. Congrats to the service to staying up-to-date and modern in their design. “Marine Social Media Handbook” reminds everyone of the reasons the Marines have the largest social media presence. Even though this is a 2012 handbook, Pinterest, the Marines newest endeavor is missing. Does this mean handbooks can never keep up with the ever evolving social media landscape, gasp?!
  • Also updated this year, the Air Force and Army’s manuals are the most interactive and complete. However, this leads to having to update the manuals almost continuously to keep up with the fads of new social media networks. Not something DT would suggest to the Defense Department.
  • The Coast Guard will not be joining the party as the Department Homeland Security has its own set of rules.

Considering the leaps in technology with social media, the larger question might be if manuals are helpful to the general military audience. Do specific tutorials just look out of date with this topic?

In the comments section, leave what you think the  Defense Department should cover in the upcoming social media guidence. Or Tweet us @DefenseTech.

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