Social Media Guidelines to Safeguard Personal & Unit Information

Article 5 min
Whether you are posting as the voice of your unit or you're using your own voice on your personal page - there are rules and guidelines to follow in and out of uniform. 

Security is everyone’s responsibility. If you see information on the public internet that you believe may have been released without appropriate authorization, report the matter immediately to your chain of command so that mitigating action can be taken. If information is sensitive, personal or operational in nature, report the matter immediately via the chain of command to the local security officer.

Regardless of profile, you should always safeguard:

Details About Your Work

Information such as establishment/unit locations, telephone numbers, ranks, unit strength, position details or role, could be used to target your workplace. Do not post details concerning security procedures. Check photos do not contain ID cards/official passes, keys, computer screens and other potentially sensitive materials or equipment.

Operational Information

During operations and missions, information protection becomes even more important, and attempts to gather information by others may become more determined. Do not release online information about: operational programs, deployment details, mission-specific information, capability shortfalls, casualty details, morale.

Social media is a gateway into your life, and provides details that can compromise your safety. Think about what you post and who can see it. You can look to the DoD Guidelines for more information.

Explore the following guidelines for safeguarding the information you share personally, on behalf of your unit or both.

Click a target to reveal more in-depth information.

Safeguard Privacy & Information; Social Media Guidelines

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1. Exercise Caution

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Exercise caution in offering personal opinion that could be interpreted as an official position. Clearly indicate the separation by using a disclaimer such as ‘the views, thoughts and opinions offered are personal and do not represent endorsed or official policy’. Refer to the OGE Legal Advisory LA-14-08 for more information.

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2. Know Your Lane

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Avoid any area of expertise where you do not have first-hand experience or knowledge. Also acknowledge the existence of different perspectives. Do not guess or assume information. Refer any questions outside your expertise to a subject matter expert (SME).

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3. Understand Your Role

with Unit Social Media Accounts

No personal opinions on politics or policy matters related to your unit. Also, do not comment on work-related legal matters.

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4. Rely On Policy

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Avoid personal opinions on politics or policy matters related to your unit. Know that there are actual policies and directives that help you distinguish what you must operate by and what you should operate by. The policies and directives are provided, but the onus is on the member to appropriately follow them. This is specific to personal accounts only. For more information, please refer to the

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5. Correct Errors

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

When you see misrepresentations about your unit in social media, you may identify and correct the error, but always do this courteously and with facts. Avoid heated arguments and be respectful.

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6. Don't Spill Secrets

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Remember Operational Security (OPSEC)! Don’t post classified, sensitive, ‘For Official/Internal Use Only’ information, or anything on a Critical Information List. Make sure information is releasable.

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7. Respect Privacy

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Don’t post anything infringing on the proprietary, privacy or personal rights of others.

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8. Keep It Classy

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Members should avoid doing anything that discredits yourself or your unit, including using inappropriate language or content. Members should avoid posting any defamatory, libelous, hazing (demeaning initiation rituals), bullying, stalking, vulgar, obscene, abusive, profane, threatening, racially or ethnically hateful or otherwise offensive or illegal information or material. Think about potential consequences, and how the post would be received by others.

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9. Don't Promote

with Unit Social Media Accounts

Do not use your unit to endorse or promote products, companies, political or religious affiliations.

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10. Avoid Impersonations

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Misrepresentation through manipulating identifiers in an attempt to disguise, or to impersonate your identity, is prohibited.

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11. Respect Copyrights

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Respect copyrighted and trademarked material. Posting or sharing music, logos, songs, or other information that is protected by copyright, trademark, or any other restriction is illegal. Follow national/federal law, service direction and instructions and your unit policy. Uniformed military members fall under the UCMJ. Civilians would fall under the Hatch Act.

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12. Use Common Sense

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Once something is out there, you can’t take it back. Be careful and cautious when posting to keep from saying/posting something you shouldn’t. You bear the responsibility for what you post.

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13. Restrict Pics In Uniform

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Don’t post social media profile pictures showing you in uniform or on base. Make sure all photos in uniform or on base are privacy restricted.

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14. Enforce The Rules

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Advise family and friends to be prudent. You can restrict your own settings, but not theirs. Make sure they know what they can post.

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15. Choose Friends Carefully

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Restrict privacy settings and don’t add people you don’t know or haven’t met in person. Be circumspect in the information you share.

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16. Change Your Passwords

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Carefully consider requests and permissions. Don’t share logins or passwords. Change passwords frequently.

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17. Guard Personal Info

with Personal Social Media Accounts

Don’t publicly post your full name, rank, position, date or place of birth, addresses, or ID information. There may be some situations where this information is necessary, but consider the risks, and the possible combination of public information from multiple sources that could be used on standard password reset questions.

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18. Don’t Geo-tag Photos

with Personal & Unit Social Media Accounts

Don’t post your specific location in real-time or geo-tag your photos. This helps prevent others taking advantage of this information.