The recently-released Marine Administrative Message 458/09 caused some to ask questions about how to properly use the social media sites that have become a popular way to communicate. Many Marines use social networking as a quick and easy way to maintain contact with family and friends, especially while away from home.
“For those with families, being away from their spouse and kids for a long period of time is difficult, and having social media to communicate is a real morale boost,” said Capt. Victor Flores, deputy director, Logistics Support Division, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany. “My daughter was born while I was deployed to Iraq, and the only way I could see her was through the webcam.”
According to the Marine Corps’ official response on social media from the Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, which was posted on the Marine Corps’ official website, Maradmin 458/09 does not limit Marines’ access to social networking sites. Rather, it clarifies terminology and provides an official process to request a waiver to access social media from the Marine Corps Enterprise Network systems.
The official response goes on to state that numerous commands currently access social media through other internet service providers, and that the Marine Corps recognizes the benefits of social networking sites.
“Social media is important to every Marine and sailor out there,” said Flores. “When you are a long way from home, your family is on your mind. These days, Marines are used to communicating with Facebook and MySpace, and when they can access their accounts while away from family, it makes a difference in their combat readiness.”
In fact, Marine Corps News utilizes Twitter to keep followers informed about happenings within the Marine Corps, and MarinesTV has a dedicated YouTube channel.
“Even before this message, sites such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter could not be accessed by Marines using the Marine Corps Enterprise Network in accordance with Marine Corps and Department of the Navy policies,” according to the official response. Reasons for the general prohibition on system networks include high risk for viruses and malicious intent, as well as the fact that certain social media use a great deal of bandwidth that may detract from mission-related functions.
Despite the regulations on the Marine Corps’ networks, “Marines are not prohibited from accessing any social media sites from their personal computers during their off-time,” the official response continued. “Marines are encouraged to tell their stories on social networking sites.”
According to the Marine Corps’ website, other units that utilize social media include the Marine Corps’ New York City Public Affairs Office, the 1st Marine Logistics Group, the 11th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units, and the Combined Task Force Talisman Saber.
“Marines also need to know that they represent their organization at all times, even through social media, and that operational security should always be remembered when posting information online,” said Colie Young, deputy public affairs officer, Public Affairs Office, Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany.
Written by By 1st Lt. Caleb Eames.