Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. --
Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr and the numerous other sites are great communication tools, but their use invokes heavy responsibility for Marines and Sailors. Recently, the Headquarters Marine Corps inspector general addressed this responsibility in a message to commanders and their associated inspector general offices.
“This is the first time I have seen the (inspector general of the Marine Corps) come down with a message addressing concerns regarding social media,” said Terry Rudisill, the command inspector general for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The message was spurred by concern about complaints the office has received regarding inappropriate sites and posts on a variety of social media outlets. Over the past 10 years, Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps has dealt with complaints about social media. There have been instances of pages being removed and individuals held accountable for their activity on social media.
Some recent trends involving misconduct have revolved around opening of formerly all-male military occupational specialties to females. Numerous social media pages and comments have gained national attention due to the degrading posts about female Marines.
Online misconduct is not defined solely on these types of posts. The guidance set forth in the Marine Corps’ Social Media Handbook states Marines shall not post “anything that is defamatory, libelous, obscene, abusive, threatening, racially or ethnically hateful, or otherwise offensive or illegal information or material.”
Misconduct over the internet, to include social media, can paint a negative picture of Marines to a vast audience and invite scrutiny of the Corps as a whole.
Rudisill recommends contacting the administrator of the website to voice complaints. Although many site administrators do monitor their sites for material that violates their internal guidelines, administrators may not always catch everything. By voicing complaints, users may be assisting that website and organization to ensure engagement on their page is appropriate. Many social media sites take cyber bullying and other harmful interactions very
Complaints can also be submitted through the 2nd MAW Command Inspector General and MCAS Cherry Point Command Inspector office. To submit a complaint online or to download a complaint form, visit www.2ndmaw.marines.mil/Offices/CommandInspectorGeneral.aspx for 2nd MAW-related complaints and www.cherrypoint.marines.mil/Resources/StationInspector.aspx for air station-related complaints. Both offices maintain 24-hour telephone hotlines: 252-466-5038 (2nd MAW) and 252-466-2016 (air station).
Complaints received through either office are reviewed based on the information provided. If personnel are identified in the complaint, the respective inspector office will address the complaint with the individual’s organization and require feedback on the action taken. Action may include an internal investigation, investigation conducted through criminal law enforcement and punitive actions.
Anyone who observes offensive, derogatory or threatening material on a website is encouraged to report the offense through the offices listed above.
Rudisill reminds Marines and Sailors that they will be held responsible for their actions both on and off duty, including online activities.
Additional Social Media tips:
• Do not violate operational security by posting information like the date and time of a unit deployment or return.
• Protect personally identifiable information like your social security number.
• Be careful how much information you share online. Little pieces of information can be gathered and used to exploit you. Example: “My spouse just left me and the kids for a six-month deployment.” This tells criminals one member of the household is gone and identifies that the children may be more vulnerable. “Check out photos of the kids playing in their pool.” If this was taken at home with a smart phone and the GPS feature was not deactivated, you have now given everyone the exact location of your home. “Going home to Alabama to visit family for two weeks.” After this third post you have identified that one member of the household is gone for a long period of time, shared the exact location of your home and announced that the home will likely be vacant for two weeks.
• Know who you are “friending” on social media. No matter how long you have been talking to that person online, if you have not shaken their hand and looked them in the eye, you really don’t know who they are.
• If you feel you are being bullied, threatened, offended or just unhappy with the content of a website, block the offender and contact that website administrator to address your concern. If any personnel aboard the air station are involved or you suspect their involvement, contact one of the two local inspector offices.