US Army Launches Its Take On YouTube

Dennis Faas's picture

The American armed forces have launched their own video-sharing site.  TroopTube is designed to allow military personnel and their loved ones to exchange messages without the drawbacks of mainstream sites such as YouTube.

The move follows a decision last year to block overseas military sites from accessing a dozen of the leading online video sites. That wasn't down to content concerns; rather military bosses felt streaming video was too much of a burden on the network links between the US and foreign bases. It was rumoured that at one stage the bandwidth was so clogged that it affected the ability to fly computer-operated spy-planes in Afghanistan.

In theory the TroopTube site is only open to active or reserve members of the military plus their friends and family. However, some writers have found they were able to register as a 'friend' without any restrictions such as being approved by a military member.

Videos are limited to a maximum 5 minutes or 20MB, both shorter than most mainstream sites. Beyond that the site works in a similar way to YouTube, though there's no option to leave comments (thus avoiding political slanging matches) and you can't embed a video on an outside website.

Unlike YouTube, each video is pre-screened to check there is no content which is offensive, breaches copyright, or reveals information which could be a security threat. (Source:

The system, developed by Seattle firm Delve Networks, has several features which could well wind up being adopted for video sites with wider audiences. Clips are automatically reproduced in several different sized files with the most appropriate one for a particular user's connection playing automatically. (Source:

The words spoken in each clip are also automatically converted to text which, once common words are removed, appears to make searching for a clip far more efficient.  We bet the army can't help but love that.

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