Social media self-immolation: Adults feed the beast

You know things aren’t going well in government when the folks who pass laws are caught doing things we want our children to stay away from.

  • A Texas congressman was the latest to prove that he cannot use a moble device responsibly. The details are too lewd to recount, or link to, here.
  • Then there was was the member of the House of Representative representing New York City, who resigned over a similar sexting incident involving photos on Twitter – in 2011. (There’s an entire Wikipedia entry on this.)

The list is unfortunately long and disgusting. When grown-ups taking to social media are so easily detached from their moorings, it’s no wonder young teenagers (and pre-teens!) misunderstand the fine line between private- and public-facing ‘media.’

Every time I hear a parent complain of a child who spends too much time on the phone, my response is, “So why do you continue to pay for the connection?” It’s easy to push the blame onto social media, when it’s the adult behavior that’s feeding the beast.

Let’s send our congressmen to social media boot camp

Interesting statement by the Ministry of Defense on soldiers using social media:

“We are not here to gag people, because we acknowledge the ubiquity and significant benefits that social media offers to people and the MoD.”

The warning comes at a good time, almost a bit late in the game, now that soldiers have been using a host of social media to stay in touch with their families and even the media. Now that not one, but two congressman have been caught with poor social media discretions, it’s about time for a social media boot camp for government!

Back in 2004, the military began cracking down on personal journals maintained by soldiers serving in Iraq.  Some still blog, but are not sure if they will get into trouble, as this NPR story, reveals.

This April, in the wake of Wikileaks, a Pentagon official, Doug Wilson talked about how “technology — and particularly technology at the intersection of national security — has outpaced the policy.”

My reaction was: Still? You would think thee are more policy wonks than tech people in government.

It’s not just the defense folks who have realized that policy has always been lagging as technology zips ahead. States have been facing the same problem. A national survey of social media in government found that

  • Two-thirds of survey respondents lack enterprise policies addressing social media
  • One-third of the states responding have enterprise policy standards,and are in the process of developing these
Furthermore, “relatively few have developed policies or guidelines to provide an enterprise context for managing social media tool use,” and are “completely balked by uncertainty”
Bottom line, they are seriously lagging in policy.
But the government has also stepped up, with its just released International Strategy for Cyber-security. It states that

“The United States supports an Internet with end-to-end interoperability, which allows people worldwide to connect to knowledge, ideas, and one another through technology that meets their needs.”

All this big picture stuff is well and good. Someone needs to put our elected officials in a room give them a 101 course in using digital channels. Their DIY method of using social media is turning out to be one of DYI –Damaging Yourself Irreparably.