Social media is probably the single most amazing advancement in communication with the most impact on how we speak to not only each other but also the world. It has allowed us to share our lives and network. A person in the United States can easily become friends with a person in another country all through social media. News is shared through social media. Some people only receive headlines by looking at their social media news feed. Social media has also been an incredible challenge for organizations like the military. While the military receives extensive briefings on material that is appropriate to be published on social media, family members sometimes miss the memo. It’s important for service members to have the conversation with their family members so that they are aware of the possible ramifications of sharing too much information online. Here is a small guide for military spouses to read and consider for safe Facebooking and Twitter’ing:
- Refrain from posting dates of ANY kind. Service members train within the United States all the time. While these types of absences aren’t necessarily deployments, it’s still a good idea to practice OPSEC (Operational Security). Do not post any dates your spouse may have spoken about on social media for any reason. This includes, but is not limited to, Facebook groups.
- Post in a professional manner. While family members aren’t subject to any punishments from the military, they are a direct reflection of the service member. Try to remember that things you say online have the potential to get your service member spouse hemmed up.
- Do not discuss movement. Dates, extensions, and times of flights are absolutely off limits. Don’t give any type of information away to anyone online. You never know who is watching. Not everyone has good intentions. Revealing pertinent information can also result in delays of service member movements.
- Do not discuss missions. It’s also a good idea to never mention any specific details about missions your spouse has discussed with you. An example of this would be disclosing details on training your spouse has gone through or capabilities of the unit. Think of your spouse’s training events as a training opportunity for yourself also to practice OPSEC.
- Disable geotags. Geotagging is the practice of “checking in” to places or allowing your location to be revealed via social media. This is very important for service members, but it’s a good safety precaution for everyone.
- Check pictures that you post. Don’t post any pictures that show names of service members and unit affiliation. I know this can be hard to do, but to err on the side of safety, it’s better to get into the habit of keeping all of that off social media.
- Do not reveal exact locations of service members. It’s never a good idea to publicly discuss where your service member is. Even if it’s within the United States.
- DO NOT REPEAT RUMORS! Do not add to the rumor mill by getting online and spreading the latest on what you “heard.” Things change all the time in the military and its very counterproductive to keep spreading rumors.
These are just a few key things that everyone should know and commit to memory. When in doubt, look for the answer or simply refrain from posting. Once you’ve become used to keeping military information off social media, it gets easier. Not only can the spillage of information from your service member to social media have detrimental effects on the mission, it can get your spouse in very hot water with his/her command.