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Swedish military urged to use Twitter on the job

Swedish military urged to use Twitter on the job

Published: 24 Jan 2011 16:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Jan 2011 16:24 GMT+01:00

Employees of the Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten) have been encouraged to use social media during work hours to participate in discussions on the the authority's activities, according to a directive from the country's military headquarters.

The suggestion was made on the condition that the activities do not prevent employees from doing their job and do not violate any of the Armed Forces' rules for internet use.

The directive, a copy of which has been reviewed by The Local, singles out blogs, communities, web forums, wikis and online games as media that staff are actively encouraged to use during work hours.

Sites named in the document include Wikipedia, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter and WordPress.

According to the document, a majority of Swedish internet users up to the age of 45 are members of a social network. The largest of them is Facebook, with 3.7 million Swedish members, according to a measurement last year. In addition, one-fifth of all Swedes aged 16 to 25 read blogs on a daily basis.

"Studies show a clear trend: among internet media, the use of social media has showed the largest increase," wrote Erik Lagersten, the Armed Forces' communications director.

He added that social media are also valued sources of information.

"We place great faith in the opinions and recommendations from friends and other consumers on the internet. Communication in social media is to a large degree based on different people's own experiences and by and large, everyone can contribute to it," wrote Lagersten.

"The large number of interests, votes and messages create a venue with breadth, depth, independence and openness," he added.

Lagersten argued that the Armed Forces are broadly represented and discussed in social media outlets, including online games, online communities, forums and blogs.

Those who have an interest in the Armed Forces or are affected by the agency, including employees, likely use social media to contribute to society's image of what the armed forces are doing and the degree of the authority's success.

The Armed Forces have a formal presence in public social media, such as on Facebook and YouTube, in order to increase awareness in society about the military and create the conditions for an open debate on its missions and operations.

In addition, the Swedish military also monitors communications in public social media as part of its overall surveillance, in addition to evaluate its own activities. It also uses it to streamline its operations and business practices, such as support for distance education or its own IT environment.

One prohibition is that staff will be barred from discussing matters relating to specific individuals in social media.

The directive was addressed to the military's division of strategic communications and marketing communications, which has until February 3rd to respond.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

23:02 January 24, 2011 by johnny1939
Abolish the lot of them!!!!!Have we not learned anything from the Manning problem? Now we have to pay for these clowns to twitter and probably expose themselves on various stupid sights to stupid people that have nothin better to do. OJ, OJ my poor head aches w/ worry and there is nothing we can do I guess. Maybe time for something.......
00:42 January 25, 2011 by BobWas
Is this to cut out the middleman, Wikileaks, and have the military do its own leaking? They could call it Milileaks.
01:24 January 25, 2011 by millionmileman
Which rank came up with this brainwave? I do not go on ANY social networks period. This is where Viruses and Malware think the are in a petri dish. Reading this, I probably have more security on my personal PCs than the Försvarsdepartementet.

Ironically, I use Scandinavian security systems and nothing gets through. Who updates all their computers? Crickets chirping........

Trolling these sights was a career buster for an unsuspecting female soldier in the Israeli Army. She bragged about her absence on Facebook and will now do overtime.
01:27 January 25, 2011 by muscle
Its a good thing actually, you can bring the armed forces more towards social side. However, I hope the MEN don't give out details about any covert operations which the government may not like to be disclosed to public.

And if someone makes this mistake, will he be punished or court marshaled (whatever you have here in sweden) ?
06:51 January 25, 2011 by krattan
Many years ago I came in contact with the internal Swedish Defense Forces internal systems. They had a completely separated network infrastructure for internal traffic which had no connection to the internet. All use of then regular floppy disks to this network etc were prohibited. They also had separate computers which had internet connection with less security. Don't know how things have developed since. But I'm sure the security thinking are there.

One thing that kind of comes forward in the article is that the surveillance guys are checking social media. We know that Facebook was a good source for the terrorist attack in Stockholm. By social media they are able to do some "internal surveillance" and check on their employees, check for security risks and so forth. I guess this is one reason for the encouragement.
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