By Anna Marie General, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs
As technology changes over time and communication shifts to a digital age, the use of social media continues to rise in the military.
“Leveraging assets that we already have from our news releases, videos and photos, can be integrated through the use of social media as an effective communication tool,” said Jason Kelly, director of U.S. Navy’s Social and Emerging Media.
According to the Navy Command Social Media Handbook, social media, as part of the overall communications strategy, helps fulfill the obligation to communicate with stakeholders by providing another means of sharing information with internal and external audiences.
“The amount of information that’s out there is increasing each year, and as we progress, these numbers can only be expected to increase again. So it’s no longer a question of why we are doing this, but how we can leverage it and make it work better for the fleet,” added Kelly.
Social media continues to be popular among service members and their families as a means of communication to stay in touch in real-time. In past generations, families were only able to stay in touch through letters and long distance land-line telephones. Now, the use of smartphone devices, tablets and the Internet has evolved, making instant communication possible.
While social media allows people to network, interact and share information worldwide, service members and their families should also consider the risks and vulnerabilities in both personal and command activities by practicing Operations Security (OPSEC).
Some tips provided by the Naval OPSEC Support Team are as follows:
- Remember computer security. Do not be an easy target for computer crimes. Antivirus software is critical to protect from viruses and other malicious attacks.
- Verify all friend requests. Those with ulterior motives often initiate contact with a friend request.
- Utilize all available privacy settings. Customize available settings to be as secure as possible. Be careful of what you and your friends post and make available to the world.
- Closely monitor your children’s use of the Internet. Children are especially vulnerable on the Internet and make easy targets. Monitor to insure they are not posting critical and personal information.
- Understand the risks associated with Geotagging. From virtual check-ins to uploading photos with geographical information, users are posting detailed physical location online for the world to see.
Each military branch provides social media guidance on what and what not to post as a service member or family member. Following these guidelines not only protects from potential adversaries, it also educates on keeping sensitive information safe and being careful what you share online.
Even when you think you are just talking to families and friends on social networks, you never know who is watching and collecting information about you. Once information is posted online, it’s there forever, even after it has been deleted.
With the evolution of new technology, social media platforms are great communication tools to get the word out for a command event, to reconnect and to share your stories with your family and friends. Service members are encouraged to make use of the benefits of instant communication through social media, but to be mindful of the best practices of OPSEC. Visit the DoD Social Media Hub to view social media guidelines.