Monday, August 10, 2009

Wire: Air Force Used Twitter to Track White House's New York Flyover Fallout

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that the U.S. Air Force tracked the instant messaging service Twitter, video carrier YouTube, and various blogs to assess the public backlash to the Obama White House's Air Force One flyover of the Statue of Liberty this spring, according to newly released government documents.

The Associated Press reported that "the episode opens a window into the tactics for operating in a boundless digital news cycle."

Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites are very popular among service members, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to keep in touch with friends and family. The sites are also valued by military organizations for recruiting or communicating with other federal agencies.

But posting information on these interactive links makes it vulnerable to being lost or stolen by the enemy, according to Pentagon officials. On Thursday hackers shut down Twitter for several hours, while Facebook had intermittent access problems -- an indication of the shortcomings of relying on these services, AP said.

The Marine Corps' computer network blocks users from accessing social media sites, which service officials say expose "information to adversaries" and provide "an easy conduit for information leakage." The prohibition may extend to other parts of the military pending a top-level review ordered in late July by Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn.

In a widely distributed memo, Lynn said the so-called "Web 2.0" sites are important tools but more study is needed to understand their threats and benefits.

Read the details of the newswire report here.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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