National Guard Bureau offers military social media guidelines

| August 26, 2010 | 0 Comments

Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — Military members need to know that even though a new Department of Defense policy authorizes them to use many of the social media and other Web 2.0 platforms available on a nonclassified government computer, consequences result for social media misuse.

“Access will vary among the states, but DoD has granted access to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube as long as users don’t compromise operational security, participate in illegal activities or try to open prohibited websites,” said Jack Harrison, director of public affairs, National Guard Bureau.

Personnel must use social media responsibly. (Courtesy photo)

Personnel must use social media responsibly. (Courtesy photo)

Official Internet posts involve content released in an official capacity by a National Guard public affairs office. Posting internal documents or information that the National Guard has not officially released to the public is prohibited, including memos, e-mails, meeting notes, message traffic, white papers, public affairs guidance, pre-decisional materials and investigatory and proprietary information.

Soldiers are also not allowed to release National Guard e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or fax numbers not already authorized for public release.

When assigned to a federal mission, Guard members must comply with Army or Air Force guidelines for use of social media and are subject to disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“They must also be mindful of the content not related to the National Guard that they post, since the lines between a Guard member’s personal and professional life are often blurred,” Harrison said.

When communicating online about the National Guard in unofficial Internet posts, Soldiers may identify themselves as Guard members and include their rank, military component and status. However, if they decide not to identify themselves as Guard members, they should not disguise, impersonate or misrepresent their identity or affiliation with the National Guard.

When expressing personal opinions, Guard members should make it clear that they are speaking for themselves and not on behalf of the National Guard, Harrison said.

As with other forms of personal public engagement, Guard members must avoid offensive and inappropriate behavior that could discredit themselves and the National Guard, which includes posting any defamatory, libelous, obscene, abusive, threatening, racially or ethnically hateful or otherwise offensive or illegal information or material.

Use OPSEC when using social media.

Use OPSEC when using social media.

Correcting errors and misrepresentations made by others about the National Guard should be done professionally and respectfully, not emotionally.

Guard members should contact their chain of command or public affairs office for guidance if they are uncertain about the need for a response.

When posting political content, Guard members must adhere to policy in DoD Directive 1344.10. They should also not imply National Guard endorsement of any opinions, products or causes other than those already officially endorsed.

Guard members should not release personal identifiable information, such as a social security number, home address or a driver’s license number that could be used to distinguish their individual identity or that of another Guardsman. By piecing together information provided on different websites, criminals can use information to impersonate Guard members and steal passwords.

Guard members should use privacy settings on social networking sites so only their “friends” can view posted photos and personal information. They should also recognize that social network “friends” and “followers” could affect determinations in background investigations for security clearances.

“Remember, what happens online, is available to everyone, everywhere,” Harrison said. “There should be no assumption of privacy when Guard members begin to interact with others online.”

Finally, Guard members should review their accounts daily for possible use or changes by unauthorized users, and should install and maintain current anti-virus and anti-spyware software on their personal computers.

For social media questions or concerns, National Guardsman may contact

(Editor’s Note: Krenke writes for the National Guard Bureau Public Affairs.)

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