Savvy Social Networking for Military Personnel
The men and women of America’s armed forces deserve the utmost respect and admiration. Besides risking their lives in service to their country, military personnel also make other enormous sacrifices to do their jobs. Soldiers deployed overseas often go months, or even years, without seeing their loved ones. That means months without seeing sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. It’s a tremendous struggle, but one that thousands of military personnel deal with every day.
Thankfully, the development of social media technology has helped make it easier for military personnel to connect with their family and friends back home. Where soldiers once wrote letters, they now write Facebook messages and make Skype calls. Though this allows soldiers to feel more connected to home while they’re overseas, it also presents a host of security challenges for military leaders.
This article discusses the social networking for military personnel and how to use these tools to connect with loved ones without hurting reputations or endangering combat operations.
Listen to your leader.
In 2007 the Department of Defense (DOD) banned social networking from all military computers. One important reason was to avoid the unintentional spilling of secrets about military activity and combat operations. The DOD reversed this ban in 2011 by issuing a flexible new social media policy that gave military commanders discretion over social networking for military personnel.
This decision fits into basic military structure: Soldiers are trained to accept direction from their commanders, and so it makes sense to extend the issue of social media safety to military commanders. Those who obey the rules set forth by their commanding officers are able to enjoy the benefits of social media.Those who don’t will face the same consequences for ignoring any other direct order — and that always means trouble.
Remember who and what you represent.
Members of the military are held to a higher standard of personal conduct than regular citizens. This includes social networking for military personnel and how they behave on social networking websites.
If a soldier posts something inappropriate or controversial on his or her Facebook profile or personal blog, it doesn’t only reflect on that soldier — it also reflects on that soldier’s peers, leaders and the military as a whole. That doesn’t prevent a soldier from expressing his or her personality online, but such individuals must always consider that what they share online won’t always stay where they post it.
Members of the military frequently find themselves the subjects of intense political and public discussion. One misinterpreted wall post or tweet could bring unwanted attention and distract from the mission at hand.
Watch where you click.
Mission security can be compromised by an errant Facebook message, but that’s not the only concern with social media. You must also worry about spammers, scammers and the ever-present danger of “click-jacking.” Social media websites are notorious targets for cybercrime. If a soldier clicks on something inappropriate, it could open up the entire computer network to a cyberattack.
The best way to avoid clicking on bogus links is to use common sense. If you get a message from a friend asking you to open a link, but you think it’s suspicious, try to contact your friend another way to confirm the message.
You should also warn friends and family to avoid any financial scams on Facebook and other social networking websites. Sadly, some criminals target military families specifically because they’re more emotionally vulnerable and thus easier marks for crime.