US Army looks to ban Twitter, Facebook and MySpace

The US military is considering banning social networking sites in an attempt to bring soldiers in line with Army rules.

According to reports online, "Officials said they needed to craft rules that would allow the military to take advantage of the speedy communications that social networking sites offer without exposing sensitive information or opening computer networks to potential risks".

The news comes as the US Marines announced its soldiers were prohibited from accessing Twitter, Facebook or MySpace from government computers.

In a press release all in caps (no really), the statement said there were some exceptions to the rules, however most Marines wouldn't be allowed access.

The US Military study and policy recommendations, ordered by deputy defence secretary William J. Lynn, are due in late September or early October, said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, to the LA Times.

Until then, soldiers will be able to use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Perhaps seeing an opportunity to get in on the story, Google has announced that it will be offering all US soldiers with a .mil email address the chance to start using its Google Voice telecoms service allowing them to make cheap calls around the world in case their access to Facebook is cut off.

In the UK, Army personnel posting information on the Internet through blogging, joining in forum discussions or online multiplayer games is already considered "public disclosure of information".

In a guideline report titled " DIN 2008DIN03-020: Contact with the Media and Communicating in Public" issued in November 2008, the MoD stated:

"MoD civil servants and members of the Armed Forces must seek prior permission if they wish to speak, formally write or otherwise communicate in the public domain on defence issues, before entering into any commitment".

Citing "Self-publishing or otherwise releasing material on the Internet or similar sharing technologies, for example through a blog, podcast or other shared text, audio or video, including via mobile devices", within that remit. However the guideline report is just that.

The British Army even have their own Facebook page.