U.S. Army bans MySpace!
Courage to Resist. May 17, 2007
In the name of limited bandwidth and national security, the Army has banned MySpace, YouTube, and nine other social networking websites. Not only does this come only days after Courage to Resist launched our own MySpace outreach effort, it comes the day after the Army itself opened a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing the “good news that goes unreported” in Iraq! No word yet that www.couragetoresist.org has been banned.
Last month the U.S. Army ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer. The April 19 directive was the first clear, blanket restriction on troops’ online activities since the start of the Iraq war. If followed “by the book,” it would mean the end of all military blogs. However, more likely, it’ll simply be another tool for the Army to shut down voices to it doesn’t like.
Ronn Cantu, an Army infantryman stationed in Iraq, posted on the soldiervoices.net forum, “This is worse than I had first anticipated. It turns out that this affects ALL DoD computers and network, not just work computers….This affects computers at the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) centers as well. In fact, those computers are set up SPECIFICALLY so that service members can keep in touch with families. There’s already websites set up to bypass these restrictions though. It will be impossible to silence the troops.”
Under the policy, troops will still be allowed to access the sites from non-military computers, although few soldiers in combat areas carry private computers. At this time, troops still have some access to the banned sites via Internet cafes that are available in many areas of Iraq. Work-arounds, including the use of proxy servers, are being widely discussed among troops.
Akinoluna, a woman Marine blogger added, “Blocking to prevent "the disclosure of combat-sensitive material" is pointless…. The ban is only on the military network, the Internet cafes and private connections aren’t affected so if some idiot wants to spill classified info via MySpace, they still can.”
The Washington Post noted the story of Mitchell Millican of Trafford, Alabama. Mitchell said he had relied on MySpace to stay in touch with his son Pfc. Jonathan M. Millican until he was killed in January by an attack on his compound in Karbala, Iraq.
For its part in cracking down on bad news coming out of Iraq, the U.S. controlled Iraqi government has banned reporters from covering the site of resistance attacks until after the area can be cleaned up. Iraqi troops have already begun enforcing this ban by firing automatic weapons over the heads of journalists to keep them away for battle scenes.