MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Feb. 3, 2011) --
Social media has become a staple in society for families, consumers, businesses, governments and groups to share various pieces of information.
Although this open forum of communication is a great way to provide up to the minute updates, it can also become hazardous if erroneous information is released by mistake.
Amanda Bastyr, a student at the University of North Carolina and prior intern at the Joint Public Affairs Office on the air station, explained that information can be viewed by strangers due to the “friend of a friend” network established through sites like Facebook.
“Upon introducing a colleague to my boyfriend’s mom, my boyfriend’s mom said ‘Oh, you’re him.’ She had never met my friend before and when I asked her how she knew him, she said she had seen his picture on Facebook,” explained Bastyr.
Although this is a harmless example, the reality of social media is that private information can reach a wider network of people nearly instantaneously and in many ways uncontrollably.
For the military, this can result in major violations of operational security and personally identifiable information being released and potentially causing harm to Department of Defense service members and their loved ones.
To combat the risks of a free-flowing age of information, the DoD, Department of the Navy and Headquarters Marine Corps have embraced the use of this technology to share the stories of service members, but has reminded personnel to do their part and adhere to operational security and personally identifiable information guidelines.
“Keep family safety top-of-mind when talking about service members and their loved ones, as enemies have noted publicly that they monitor social media sites for information on families, as well as troops and equipment,” according to an excerpt from the Navy Command Social Media Handbook. This handbook was created by the Department of the Navy to provide guidance on the use of social media sites both officially through command pages and unofficially through personal profiles.
The Marine Corps has implanted its own set of rules and guidance on http://www.marines.mil/OMG. This link lists guidance for Marines making unofficial posts on social media sites and can be shown to family members as well.
Taking the safety of Marines and families one step further, the station Joint Public Affairs Office offers training for units desiring to set-up an official social media site and for individual Marines and families to educate them on the potential implications of social media sites.
Much of the information provided was pulled from pre-existing operational security and personal identification information guidance and adapted to the social media realm.