AUSTRALIAN GOV REVIEW OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEFENCE

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A revolution is occurring in the way people communicate, driven by the use of social media. Although the revolution has been coming for some time, it has taken many in business, government and the general populace by surprise.

The surprise has not just been about the widespread use of the new media, but about how they are changing the way business is conducted and how people communicate with business and  government. Social media channels provide opportunities for all, but like all media they can have both positive and negative outcomes for individuals and organisations.

Defence is in a similar position to other organisations that are coming to grips with the social media. The Defence experience examined by the review team generally reflects that of the rest of Australian society. There is no evidence of systemic abuse by Defence personnel in their official or unofficial use of social media, which would bring the brand
into disrepute or threaten operational security.

There is a view in the community that it is younger people who welcome social media and have been captured by it. Through research, this review concluded that Defence personnel across all age groups hold a continuum of views, from acceptance of social media and their likely benefits for Defence work to a rejection of them. Many accept that social media are here to stay and are willing to engage, but to varying degrees.

Those who are yet to welcome social media into their lives may be reflecting the traditions of security and confidentiality within Defence. In some ways, those traditions are contradictory to the philosophies of social media, where openness and transparency often take a higher priority.

There is nothing unusual about the continuum of opinions in Defence, as it reflects the variety of views about social media in the wider Australian society. However, Defence personnel in Australia have a peculiar position in society because of the work they do and because of the Australian community’s high regard for them.

The review team was conscious of the terms of reference for this report, but also understood that its work might provide a snapshot of social media within Defence and a blueprint for future developments.

The team prepared this review from a composite of research, observations and findings in the form of a synthesis report. It conducted general research, including by examining and assessing international social media policies, strategies and protocols from material produced by other armed forces. It also conducted quantitative and qualitative research to gauge attitudes, perceptions and views about social media in the general community and within Defence.

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