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WASHINGTON — A draft memo of the Defense Department’s long-awaited official policy for Web 2.0 broadens access to social media, potentially good news for troops who’ve been worried the Pentagon’s heavy-handed approach to Facebook, Twitter and similar sites.

Officials have decided to allow access to popular social networking sites on the unclassified military computer network, citing the importance of using the Internet to highlight the positive work servicemembers are performing, according to the online news site NextGov, which obtained the memo Tuesday.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn III calls in the memo for top commanders to recognize “that emerging Internet-based capabilities offer both opportunities and risks that need to be balanced in ways that provide an information advantage for our people and mission partners.”

Price Floyd, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, used Twitter on Wednesday to caution that “no final decision has been made.”

Currently, rules regarding the use of social networking sites vary widely from service to service and even base to base. Video streaming sites and other media-heavy destinations have been banned servicewide, but the Army and Marine Corps use YouTube frequently for internal and extrenal messages. Dozens of units have Flickr and Twitter feeds even though many of their troops can’t access the sites on official computers.

According to NextGov, that would all change to allow “personal, unofficial use of Internet-based capabilities by DoD employees” on the unclassified network as long as users don’t “claim representation of the department or its policies, or those of the U.S. government.”

Paul Bove, a strategist in the Air Force’s public affairs emerging media office, said the memo is what he expected.

“I didn’t think there was a chance they would block all these sites,” he said, noting it’s still business as usual at his office until something official is handed down. “Seeing the memo, I’m sure a lot of regular soldiers and servicemembers out there are excited, but hopefully they’re cautiously optimistic at this point.”


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