FORT BLISS, TEXAS – Soldiers using social media – a tool often used by members of the military to keep in contact with family from far away places and to combat depression – have been warned to be vigilant about their public footprint.
Army personnel have been warned to employ “Think, Type, Post” when engaging on social sites,” according to a Pentagon memo to members of the military.
“This is pretty much common sense stuff,” Capt. Traun C. Moore, of the 24th press camp headquarters and a public information officer.
“There is operational security that we always have to keep in mind when putting information on these platforms. We wouldn’t want to put any of our soldiers or their families at risk, so yes, everything is screened before it goes up and published to these platforms.”
An Associated Press article this year reported that the Pentagon said that nearly 6,200 military members had been photographed in sexually explicit photos, the photos were later shared on different social platforms against their will by someone from work.
The Pentagon also reported that more than 22,000 people among all U.S. services said they were uncomfortable and mad when someone they knew from work sent them pornography via social media.
The Pentagon memo urges members of the military to “Think” about the message, “Type” a communication that is consistent with Army values; and “Post” only those messages that demonstrate dignity and respect for self and others,” the letter stated.
Negative and inaccurate social media information reaches the public and portrays the military in a bad light, Moore said.
“These social media platforms are very helpful and we all know that they pay a big role in society, so it allows us to share our information and tell our story and the Army story so that they have a better understanding of what we have going on.”
46Q Public Affairs Specialist, Alon Humphrey said social media distracts people from the tasks they do each day. He said being in the military means that social media has to be used with extreme caution.
“It can distract you but I wouldn’t say that social media is something bad, but we have an important job where we have to know how to handle the information we work with because once something is leaked we might be putting someone or a mission in danger,” Humphrey said.
Pfc. William Dickinson said that social media has become a way in which soldiers can combat depression as they are far away from their wives, children and parents. He said that before social media soldiers had to wait days and even weeks to get a response back and he sees how that could cause depression in an officer.
“I can see how that waiting time can eat up a soldier, I think social media is a great way to see their families and have that assurance that they are good that you are ok,” Dickenson said.
Moore said that the social media has not changed the military, but instead gave them a tool to reach the communities around them.
“I don’t think social media has actually changed the military. What social media has done is given us different kind of platforms to be able to share information with many kinds of people,” Moore said.
However, Dickenson said he thinks that social media has changed the military due to all the new responsibilities and rules they must follow. He said even though he understands the benefits of social media he tries to avoid it.
“I tend to put social media down most of the time, I tend to not make it a large chunk of my life because I try to live the here and now looking at all these pictures because you’re almost living in the past,” Dickenson said.
“I want to focus on my work because that’s what’s on hand but I do use it to make sure my mother is doing good, who had a hard time with joining the military.”