Facebook is a lifeline for military families in touch with loved ones stationed away from home, but it also can be precarious if the "wrong" things appear. A new "social media guide" by Facebook and Blue Star Families provides counsel on what to say, and what not to say, on the social networking site.
Blue Star Families was formed three years ago by military spouses "to raise the awareness of the challenges of military family life with our civilian communities and leaders." As social networking has grown — and Internet controversies have arisen such as the pending case of Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst charged with leaking secret U.S. data to WikiLeaks — Blue Star Families has become a key resource.
The group worked with Facebook to develop the guide, which is quite extensive, and can be viewed online, as well as downloaded. There's information about privacy settings and security.
Under "Maintain operational security (OpSec)," service members and families are reminded to stay silent, as most have been, when sharing certain information on Facebook:
Today's military families and spouses are kept far more informed about troop movements, unit locations, unit activities and more than in years past but have less training on how to maintain OpSec. Before posting information on Facebook, it's crucial for your safety as well as the safety of your service member and his or her unit that you remember OpSec....
Be mindful of the following:
- Unit activities, while deployed or at home, are fluid and change rapidly. The information you have might be incorrect or outdated.
- Facebook posts about a service member's activities (troop movements, homecomings, deployment dates) violate OpSec ... but they may additionally put you in a vulnerable position since they signal to others that you are home alone.
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