March 2, 2011

Marines Boot Social Media Pioneers From Afghanistan After Facebook Freakout

From Wired: Danger Room by Spencer Ackerman -
It started off as an experimental effort to cover the war in the era of social media. But launching a forum where anyone could weigh in about a combat unit’s fight proved to be more than the Marines were willing to handle. The media pioneers have been sent home — largely over some comments left on a Facebook wall.

Journalists working for Basetrack, a new nonprofit media group, arrived in the Musa Qala district of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in October with an unconventional mission. They’d exhaustively document the war of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in videos, audio interviews, articles and mapping tools. And, through Facebook, they’d make their work a portal for those invested most in the Marines, like their relatives.

But the social media experiment turned out to be too social for both the battalion’s command and its superiors. They were largely fine with the journalists’ work. It was the commenting community on Facebook that drove the brass nuts. Last month, the Marines abruptly ended the experiment and terminated Basetrack’s embeds.

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