Are you helping the enemy - social media in today's war

  • Published
  • By Capt. Wayne Capps
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
I know, I know, we hear it all the time; OPSEC, watch what you say, watch what you do, but with the current trend of putting your business "out there," do we really stop and think about the pictures and information we post on social networking sites? The short answer is no.

According to an Air Force social media use survey, 69 percent of Airmen use YouTube, 50 percent actively use Facebook and 48 percent say they still use MySpace. There are also numerous Airmen tweeting, blogging and photo sharing. That is a lot of free flowing information with no checks and balances.

As a public affairs officer, I brief deploying Airmen on a monthly basis about what not to post but inevitably, on almost all deployment cycles, I have to address a picture or post that has no business being in the public domain. The problems are typically detailed pictures of a base, runway or specific cargo, fun pictures with co-worker with mission boards in the background or even information about upcoming missions. While these examples may seem benign, this type of information can be cobbled together to provide useful information to our enemy.

Combining the overzealous mission information mentioned above along with personal information, usually available in someone's profile, and you have potentially endangered yourself and co-workers.

We often hear about how easy it is for criminals to steal personal information for financial gain. Think about the possibilities if the criminal's intention was more dire than just stealing a few bucks. It could compromise the mission, your safety and the safety of the people around you.

Don't let anyone target you or your family based on personal information that you have available online. So, here are some tips to keep in mind while on social networking sites.
- Don't post sensitive, personal or classified information online.
- Keep sensitive work-related information off your profile.
- Do not post future plans, schedules or locations.
- Check all photos for information that may be useful to an enemy of the United States.
- Understand and properly set privacy and security options.

Social networking and alternative media aren't going anywhere. They are only growing and becoming more and more relevant in our society. So, the next time you post, tweet or blog, be smart about it and make sure the information you put "out there" will keep you, me and our family's safe.