DoD Blocks Social Websites

The AP is reporting that the Department of Defense will start blocking social web sites like MySpace and YouTube for enlisted members in Iraq and other locations. Until now this has been a vital medium for deployed solider’s because it allows them to easily update friends and family. The DoD is citing bandwidth and network security concerns as the reasons for this new ban saying "The U.S. Army’s not going to pay the bill for you to get on MySpace and YouTube". I have a brother in law in Iraq, he has told me about some of the new web technology on the battlefield that allows him to receive email and even web cam with his family. These new options are of course under tight controls and the process for sending an email through official channels feels more like a home loan application and cavity search than a private communication.

Safe guards are important to protect our troops however its pretty clear they are also concerned about stopping the next Abu Grab picture/video leak. In previous wars bad press was mostly confined to private conversation however with the emergence of online video and blogs this information can now reach untold millions overnight. Controlling information (and even misinformation) is very important in any war and the Internet is making this increasingly more difficult to do. It’s no shock the troops have embraced these web sites, after all they allow them to escape for a few minutes and perhaps even help remind them what they are fighting for. It may also be safe to say that the pin up girl pictures sent through mail in previous wars has now been replaced with MySpace "hotties" in their underwear.

Other web sites included in the block are Metacafe, IFilm, StupidVideos and FileCabi, BlackPlanet, Hi5, Pandora, MTV, 1.fm and live365. Solders in need of a good laugh from a YouTube video or to communicate through a social web site may want to explore web sites (or proxies) that can mask your usage like workbrowse.com.

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