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Top military social media stories for 2010

December 13, 2010

My first post at It’s a special time of year, where some lists count who’s naughty or nice…and others count the year-end highlights. Here are my thoughts on some of the year’s top stories – let me know what you think!

It has been a banner year in the world of government social media, and a notable one for the U.S. military’s social efforts too. While not new to the social media scene, the service branches of the U.S. military stepped up their social media usage in 2010, experiencing a maturation that saw elements across the Department of Defense refining, advancing and improving upon the social media status quo. Beyond U.S. borders, the use of social media related to military and peacekeeping missions also made news.

Here are just a few of the top military social media stories from 2010:

The Department of Defense unveils its social media policy

For years the military branches have pushed to engage on social media sites, but the majority of sites were blocked by Department of Defense policy, and military regulations made little reference to social media use. That changed on February 26 when the Department of Defense released a social media policy that not only opened up access to social media sites across the DoD network (a step many corporations are even hesitant to take), but was also described by top DoD officials as representing a clear “bias toward engagement” on social media platforms.

Admiral Mullen tweets his thoughts on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

The Senate may not vote to repeal it in 2010, but Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his thoughts known on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — and he confirmed it with a tweet. Shortly after stepping away from Senate testimony, Admiral Mullen reiterated his support for repealing the ban on homosexuals openly serving, not by a media interview but via a tweet. “Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to integrity.”

Social media aids Haiti earthquake relief efforts

Haiti represented perhaps the biggest social media success story of 2010, in that the use and monitoring of social media in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake saved lives. Both the military and State Department used social media to coordinate their disaster relief, for everything from on the ground communications when there wasn’t the time to set up official channels, to tracking posts on social media sites in order to direct relief efforts to the right locations.

Israeli Soldier divulges mission details on Facebook

While there are many benefits for allowing access to social media, even during deployments, one Israeli soldier demonstrated the risks that go along with unfettered access. His Facebook post about an upcoming raid resulting in canceling the mission, and had it proceeded, could have put himself and his fellow soldiers in significant harm. It’s a lesson those in the U.S. military take to heart, and one reason why open access comes with increased obligations to educate on appropriate social media use.

Wikileaks releases thousands of classified military documents

While I hate to pile onto the media frenzy, there’s no question that the unprecedented release of classified documents, many of them related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, make Wikileaks one of the biggest stories of the year. With one soldier seemingly behind the release of hundreds of thousands of classified military documents, it has called into question our Pentagon procedures for access to information, as well as the use of removable hardware.

Read the full post at OhMyGov for more notable stories from 2010.

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