Where is Our Social Media?

The military announced last week that it is changing its rules on social media – allowing access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites. 

This sounds like great news for military members abroad who will now have new options to stay in contact with distant family members. The new policy also allows the military itself to connect in new ways with the public. In fact,  the New York Times blog notes that Price Floyd, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, announced the new social media policy on his Twitter feed rather than through a press release.

In contrast, during the Center’s last needs assessment survey in August 2009 we asked whether prop 99-ers were permitted to access social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube from their office computers. Only 47.7% said yes.

It’s ridiculous that at a time when the military can give access to social media to soldiers at war, county health departments in California don’t give permission to their staff. There are so many ways that social media can connect people and allow them to collaborate better. In tobacco control social media provides new ways to engage your current coalition members and campaign partners and also allows you to bring your message to new people throughout the community who might otherwise not see it.

If the military can allow access to social media, balancing legitimate security issues with openness, what is stopping county health departments?

-Vanessa Marvin

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