United States Air Force Monitors Social Networking Sites

By: Mark Vaughn Email
By: Mark Vaughn Email

Newly released documents reveal Tyndall Air Force base personnel are not only monitoring the skies for any military threat, they're also monitoring social networking sites on the internet.

Two years ago the air force created the Combat Information Cell to monitor public responses to Air Force operations.

The cell monitored social sites like Twitter and Facebook to monitor reaction about the highly criticized Air Force One flyover in New York.

The 9-11 attacks led to the creation of the Air and Space Operations Center, also known as the A.O.C. at Tyndall Air Force base.

Major Susan Romano, Director of Air Force Northern Public Affairs Said "We might be responding to threats airborne. Threats to the United States of America, and that's since 9-11 we've been doing that consistently. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The A.O.C.'s Combat Information Cell uses social media sites like twitter as a tool.

"They're able to assess social media sites, as well as cull information from other organizations throughout the A.O.C. as well as throughout the Air Force and put together a synthesized message for the commander in order for him to make decisions and determinations as to how it affects our mission," added Romano

The cell used these sites when the unannounced Air Force One flyover in New York was intensely criticized.

Blogs and social networking sites were flooded with negative responses fearing another attack.

Romano added, "Subsequent to that we were watching the open source media traffic, the blog sites, and gauging the reaction of the American public and the media."

One of the cells' written assessments said, media coverage "Will focus on local hysteria and lack of notification."

The cell gave recommendations of how to publicly react, basically telling the Air Force people were furious and there was no positive spin possible.

Major Romano says they're learning from those blogs, and tweets.

"Collectively we were looking at the response from open source media sites, and saying how can we evaluate and learn from the events that transpired that day, and what can we do in the future."

It shows how important social networking sites have become, but they could still be a danger to the military due to the threat of Cyber Attack.

The Department of Defense has ordered a study of the threats and benefits of the sites, but for now the cell will continue to use them.

The Marine Corps recently banned use of social networking sites on it's network computers.

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