Posted August 8, 2009 6:10 am by with 4 comments

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twitter-logo1Since we had a rather strong response to our coverage of the United States Marine Corps’ policy to not allow Marines to access social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter on the Marines’ network it seemed appropriate to see how this is handled ‘across the pond’.

Now before going into this and making comparisons between the two reports I think it only fair to share a comment from one of our readers to the report regarding the USMC policy. Commenter Jason said

This ban has slowly been implemented across all Department of Defense systems. This is not just a Marine ban. This is strictly for government systems and in no way affects the systems used for morale. They are not saying the Marines cannot access Facebook or MySpace or Twitter on their time. They are saying that Marines cannot access these Social Networking sites while at work.

While deployed there is plenty of access to morale systems that can be used when off duty. I suppose it is one of those things where you have to be there to understand. This is being overhyped.

All service members are allowed to use any social networking site they choose. This article simply states that on government systems they will be blocked. It’s the same as your office blocking access to chat or porn or any other site that is NSFW. Or that they deem a waste of company resources or a threat to the security of the business.

Admittedly, I do not know the credentials of our commenter but it does sounds reasonable that the initial reaction to the ban may have been overstated or at least misunderstood.

According to the Telegraph the British military’s take on Twitter at least is quite different. Once again this is not a ‘critique’ of what is right or wrong in the use of social media by the military anywhere. What we look to explore is how social media is viewed and its ultimate impact on how we communicate which eventually impacts how we do business online.

So the British policy is categorized as a liberalization of the use for British troops which apparently had been tighter until now.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that British troops are no longer required to seek permission to use the sites but asks personnel to use common sense over the amount of detail revealed.

The MoD said it would actively sponsor soldiers who are willing to tweet or blog about life in the military, with tips for engaging an online audience.

“This about troops having a little more freedom, a little more autonomy. The MoD’s new common sense guidance allows service personnel to talk about themselves and their work online, within limits and with advice to protect their security, reputation and privacy”.

That does read a bit differently than the USMC’s policy for sure. Some might argue that it gives too much autonomy to each soldier but we would need to learn what the guidelines are in detail before saying that the British military is truly providing complete freedom. It doesn’t seem that British troops have social media ‘carte blanche’ when reading between the lines of their statements. Policies are only good as they are enforced so we’ll need to see this in action before a fair assessment can be made.

What are your thoughts on this and social media policies in general? How do you suggest that each organization arrive at the rules and regulations that can make social media effective while simultaneously ‘keeping the peace’?