Social Media and the Military

Earlier this month The Pentagon ordered a review of its use of social media and its potential threat to compromise national security. Results of an investigation analyzing the potential benefits and risks of social media in the military will be released in September.

At present, many branches of the government cite social media as the best way to recruit young talent. In fact, a study by Harvard MPP candidate Stephen Ander actually urges the government to “increase presence on social networking websites” and “link government reports to social news sites” for the purpose of recruiting.

While there has been no department-wide ban, the Marine Corps has long prohibited the use of social networking sites on work computers. US Forces in Afghanistan, however, keep the world updated via Twitter (@usfora), Facebook and Youtube. Colonel Greg Julian in Afghanistan sees the social networking sites as a way to engage a growing audience that no longer seeks information from traditional news sources.

The military is definitely on to something obvious here. Yes, social media is an excellent way to recruit hot young talent. And yes, more and more people are moving away from traditional media to get their news. In fact, 24 out of the largest 25 newspapers have seen a decline in circulation as the masses move toward new media, and more than 1.5 million content pieces (news articles, blogs, etc.) are shared on Facebook each day.

But what does it all mean? Basically, if you want to remain relevant you’ve got to participate in the online social conversation. Should this include the US Military? I personally don’t see a lot of harm in it. But then again I know nothing of national security or of enemy tactics like hacking, spying, etc.

I suppose the results of the Pentagon’s review will shed more light on the potential risks this trend may cause.

What about you? Does your company use online social networking during the recruiting process?

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