FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING
Q. What are social media websites?
A. Social media websites are sites that allow people to collaborate and connect to share information and ideas. Essentially, these sites allow people to socialize in cyberspace. Some are tailored to government and military employees. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the most popular social media sites in the United States.
Q. What are the benefits of using a social media website?
A. From a personal perspective, social media websites can be fun, exciting, entertaining, and useful for maintaining relationships. Professionally, people can use social media websites for marketing, managing their public image, connect with customers, and solicit ideas and feedback. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for example, uses it to issue flood warnings. For people who are homebound due to illness, are stay-at-home parents, or retired, social media is a good way to stay connected.
Q. Should I stop using social media? Can I order my subordinates to stop using it?
A. The very nature of our service means that military members face a special risk. But its critical to responsibly and carefully weigh the circumstances. Recent cases of individuals being singled out on social media involved service members who were posting military information about current operations on their personal pages. Social media engagement is an individual decision; there is no blanket prohibition against it. Concerned leaders should talk to their legal office about options, but remember informed decisions require education about the facts and careful review of recommendations on how to protect social media accounts.
Q. Am I allowed to share information about the Air Force on my social media accounts?
A. Yes. Assess the risk and if you choose to engage, do so safely and within Air Force and DoD guidelines. In particular, military information about current operations has brought attention and on-line threats to a few of our Airmen. Think about what you are posting and, as always, ensure the information you're posting is cleared for release and appropriate. Be cautious with information you may have access to that is sensitive and should always follow established release protocols - such as if a unit member is injured, killed or missing. And for all posts, employ common sense by considering how information could be used. If you post that your family is on vacation, for example, that signals that your house is vacant.
Q. What are the dangers of using social media websites?
A. Stalkers, thieves, hackers, phishers/scammers, militant Americans, terrorists, intelligence spies, and pedophiles also use social media.
- Thieves or stalkers
may watch your updates to learn about your present location and schedule so they know when to rob or stalk you.
are using social networking to find and connect with kids. There are many well-publicized examples of kids who have been lured away be a pedophile who made friends with them through social networking. According to ABC News, MySpace kicked off 90,000 sex offenders from their site.
are con artists who send e-mails to people that appear to be authentic communication from a bank, a web service, or some other authority but are in fact a lure. The goal is usually for the user to come to a website that is linked from the e-mail in order to load malicious software on the target's machine or entice them into entering sensitive data such as your username and password.
have said they are hunting people and their families at home. One handbook tells its terrorists to seek out "Information about government personnel, officers, important personalities, and all matters related to those (resident, work place, times of leaving and returning, wives and children, places visited)."
Military family members have received hate mail and harassing phone calls from people who don't like the US military. Government employees and military members have also had their pages raided and defaced.
Q. What things should I avoid posting?
A. What you want to keep secret and what some people want from you are not always the same. It's important to know what adversaries are looking for. You should be careful when sharing the names and photos of yourself, your family and your co-workers. Don't share your usernames, passwords, or network details. Don't share your job title, location, salary, or clearance level. Also avoid listing information about your home or work security and logistical details, like how you get to work and travel itineraries. Don't post information about your mission or your unit's capabilities and limitations. Posting your social security number, credit cards, or banking information also puts you at risk of identity theft. Listing your hobbies, likes, dislikes, etc., could be useful information to an enemy, especially for gaining trust and rapport before seeking other information. Other things to consider not posting about are:
- Classified information
- Specific unit movement information
- If and when a family is going on vacation or leaving the house vacant
- Gossip and anything that may be considered offensive
- Any information that would infringe upon the personal rights of others
- Information concerning personnel missing or killed in action prior to release by DOD
- Anything that would discredit the Armed Forces
Q. What things should I post?
A. - Pride and support for service, units, specialties and other Service members
- General statements about service or duty
- Corrections to misrepresentations made about the military - remember to do so respectfully and accurately
Q. If I delete my social media profiles, will I be safe?
A. Unfortunately, no. Whatever you share on social media is permanent. If you do not want the world to know, then you should not post it. Something posted five years ago can resurface at any time, even if it was just a 'younger, dumber you.'"
Q. What can I do to protect myself on social media?
A. Refrain from tagging or posting your specific location. Know and manage your 'friend' or 'follower' list closely. Use strong passwords. Keep your personal information private and review any posts you are tagged in prior to them showing up on your profile. Do the same for your family. Click here learn to more