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A Casualty Of War: MySpace

"It is an unnecessary hardship on people who already have more hardships than they should have to deal with," said Maltby, an Army veteran.

Julie Supan, a YouTube spokeswoman, said executives at her Web site wanted to meet Defense officials to discuss the restrictions.

"We certainly don't want YouTube to be used to share sensitive security information or put anyone in harm's way," she said in a statement. "The vast majority of videos on YouTube posted by soldiers, their families and friends are personal messages, original songs, tributes and video letters."

Executives at several of the affected Web sites said they had not been notified of the restrictions by Defense officials.

"It was definitely a surprise to us," said Benjamin Sun, chief executive of BlackPlanet, a social networking site popular with African Americans. He said he plans to contact the Pentagon to learn more about the reasons behind the decision and address any concerns.

N. Mark Lam, chief executive of the radio-streaming site Live365, said he, too, had not been notified by Defense officials and planned to ask them why they chose to curtail access to some sites and not to dozens of others providing similar services. He acknowledged that his site requires a large amount of bandwidth.

The Defense Department barred access to the Web sites even as the military has stepped up its campaign to upload official videos to the Web, including on YouTube, to help portray U.S. combat efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan in a favorable light. In the past two months, for instance, the military has posted YouTube videos showing troops engaged in a gun battle in Baghdad, destroying chemical factories, attacking insurgent mortar positions and rescuing a kidnap victim.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said these offerings would not be affected by the restrictions because they aren't posted through the military's network. Though many U.S. forces would no longer be able to view these videos, Garver added, "They don't need to. They live them every day."

The Defense Department Web site policy comes one month after the Army issued a regulation barring soldiers from posting entries on blogs, participating in online discussion groups or sending personal e-mail unless the content is cleared by an superior officer. Within days of Wired magazine reporting that regulation, the Army issued a fact sheet clarifying that soldiers' postings would not be subjected to review. But military bloggers continued to warn that the regulation could have a chilling effect on their writing.

Staff writers Ann Scott Tyson and Terissa Schor contributed to this report.

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