Defense Department redesigns website to feature social media

The Department of Defense announced on Monday that they overhauled their website to accommodate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in order to interact with younger Americans who use these tools.

The announcement comes at a time when the Pentagon is reviewing the use of social media within its own ranks. Some reports have indicated the military is considering a service-wide ban of the sites. The Marines have already banned access to social media earlier this month.

Nonetheless, the Pentagon still sees social media as an important means to reach the public. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen uses Twitter and the U.S. forces in Afghanistan have an official Facebook account.

"We need to embrace these technologies. We need to use them because thats what the young people use these days. We need to communicate with them," Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said in a statement. "If we just stick to the traditional ways of communicating, we leave out a huge portion of society."

Floyd, who also uses Twitter, said the Pentagon is also changing the name of its site from "DefenseLINK.mil" to "Defense.gov."

"Most people on the outside wouldn't have guessed that DefenseLink was the Web site for the Defense Department," Floyd said. He also noted that these changes were encouraged by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

"Unlike most Web sites, more people over 45 go to DefenseLINK than under 45," he added. "This was another reason why we needed to change the Web site and rebrand it was to reach that younger audience. But we also don't want to lose the audience we have now."

The re-design's timing alongside the social media review shows the underlying tension in the Pentagon between using social media as an outreach tool and the safety concerns posed by the openness of the sites.

Here is a screen grab of the site. Note the social media links on the left sidebar and the "We Want to Hear From You" section on the right:



Cross-posted to the Twitter Room

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