DoD tightens parameters on Web logs

18 Aug 2006 | Lance Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich

Before “blogging” was a household word, Marines and sailors used word-of-mouth, underground newsletters or television interviews to discuss concerns and state their sentiments for their beloved Corps. Today, some service members are using Web blogs on the World Wide Web to converse on several topics, including personal views on the war and opinions about their chain of command. Devil dogs and seamen must know the guidelines just released by the Department of Defense before typing their next blog entry.

Blogs are an online diary or a personal chronological log of thoughts usually updated daily on a Web site and can be used to influence a reader’s position on a specific subject.

Businesses, political candidates and world leaders have used blogs to gain awareness in hopes of fostering favorable opinions.

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported Wal-Mart tried to get select bloggers on their side by sending out positive news about itself while its’ workers were protesting their lack of health insurance.

Greensboro, N.C., democrat Jeff Thigpen decided to use a Web log during 2004 to converse directly with voters and constituents any time he desired, at virtually no cost, as did Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Likewise, the use of blogs by military personnel has increased and has lately come into question.

According to a recent DoD message, “personal blogs may not be created/maintained during normal duty hours and may not contain information on military activities that is not available to the general public.”

Information that should not be discussed involves military activities or operations, morale of units, specifics on some equipment and any information that may be beneficial to American opposition.

Lance Cpl. Christina C. Williams, administrative clerk, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II MEF, said she uses Web logging as a way to meet people and pass time.

Williams said that her blogs are never about the Marine Corps, nor does she talk about her work environment.

“I ask questions and people e-mail me their answers,” she said. “It’s a way to get other, interesting points of view on things.”

Williams stated her family also has a Web page, on which they post current events, photographs and family trivia questions.

“My aunt posted a question, ‘What was my nickname as a kid?’” she said. “It’s stuff only our family would know.”

Williams updates her weblog twice a week, but constantly surfs the Internet and reads other peoples’ blog entries, she said.

Times are changing and people are getting information from places other than the traditional newspaper. There is an obvious threat in the world and some seek to destroy freedom and the American way of life. Blogs about the Corps could help these adversaries put together pieces of the puzzle and pose grave danger to warriors around the globe. The eyes of terrorism are on the Internet, and could be searching for intelligence and any information they could use against the United States.