Facebook blooper (UPDATED, with the regs: Speaking of the First Amendment…

“What are the rules regarding free speech for GIs on Facebook?  Two are being brought up on charges for saying that Navy sucks.”

This from a GI Rights Hotline list I’m on. That threat both seems to belie and kind of explains why Facebook is permitted but MySpace banned on bases, at least according to this NYRB piece:

One of the most notable examples of class distinction…came from the US military, which permitted soldiers to use Facebook but banned MySpace in 2007:

Facebook is extremely popular in the military, but it’s not the [social network] of choice for 18-year-old soldiers, a group that is primarily from poorer, less educated communities. They are using MySpace. The officers, many of whom have already received college training, are using Facebook.

MySpace remains banned within the military to this day, while Facebook, despite security concerns, is still available to American troops.

My theory? The officers are on already on Facebook, chatting with their college buddies and juggling its news feeds; and they can use it to check on their soldiers. Whereas braving MySpace, with its relentless music and layout worthy of Kandinsky, takes effort.

Thus, using your real  name and posting NAVY SUCKS does sound like you’re testing something.  “Saying that kind of thing in a public forum especially if it is clear that you are a member of the Navy is courtmartialable,” adds an attorney from the Center on Conscience and War.

Update: Kathy of the Military Law Task Force lays down the law, including some good news:

DoD recently revised its reg on dissent, to include more discussion of internet communication and the like. While the underlying constitutional law is the same, it’s worth looking at DoD Instruction 1325.06, which has several new rules and guidelines on electronic communication. By way of example, in Enclosure 3:
“4. PUBLICATION OF PERSONAL WRITING MATTERS (TO INCLUDE WEB SITES, WEB LOGS (BLOGS), AND OTHER ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS).

Service members may not pursue personal writing for publication whether by traditional written or by electronic means (Web sites, BLOGS, and other electronic communications) during duty hours, nor may they use Government or non-appropriated fund property for this purpose, on or off duty, unless it is for official use or authorized purposes only pursuant to section 2-301 of DoD 5500.7-R (Reference (g)). Publication of such matters by military personnel off-post, on their own time, and with their own money and equipment is not prohibited; however, if such a publication contains language the utterance of which is punishable under Federal law or otherwise violates this Instruction or other DoD issuances, those involved in printing, publishing, or distributing it may be disciplined or face appropriate administrative action for such infractions.”

Kathy adds that counsel may still be needed to ensure compliance with above.  In the meantime, I think I still suggest a new Facebook ID, with an upside-down flag in case of a photo.

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